Finally, there is a resolution of the long saga of the off-leash dog trial at Narrawallee Beach. The decision by Shoalhaven City Council to make the off-leash area a permanent thing must now be accepted and, more importantly, made to work.
This will mean both sides in the debate must work together in a civil manner to ensure the rules are adhered to and no one is made to feel alienated from the beach loved by everyone, including the dogs.
That means the sniping that characterised a polarising issue should be laid to rest. It means also that dog owners abide by the rules and also be mindful of their dogs’ behaviour when off the lead, especially around the very young and the old.
Responsible and aware dog owners know not everyone shares their affection for canines; that some people are intimidated by our four-legged friends and do not welcome being jumped on and licked. They also recognise the risks of being the person in charge of an animal when that animal breaks the rules.
Like parents of young children, dog owners need to be aware at all times of where their animal is and what it is doing. If it is being a nuisance, it should be placed immediately back on the leash so it can be controlled.
Adhering to the set off leash areas and times is also important so people who love the beach but not dogs have areas they can use without fear of canine intrusion.
And obviously it is critical dog owners clean up after their pets.
All that said, it is also incumbent upon the folk who opposed the trial to accept Shoalhaven City Council’s decision with good grace.
Some of the encounters between the two groups during the off-leash trial have reeked of pettiness and nastiness. Let’s put all that behind us now and get on with sharing the beach.
Let’s also remember that one of our biggest local earners is tourism and one of the major drawcards of the Shoalhaven is its pet-friendliness. Holiday rentals that welcome city dogs are always in high demand. Those visitors with dogs make a significant contribution to the local economy and will continue to do so if treated in a friendly fashion.
Having assessed the trial as a success, Shoalhaven City Council will look at expanding off leash areas on beaches across the region, pleasing a lot of pups.
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