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Put a leash on your dog or be collared, Government warns

Ian Bushnell 16 July 2019 41

New laws have come into force requiring dogs to be on a lead unless in designated areas. Photos: George Tsotsos.

New City Services Minister Chris Steel has marked out the territory for the ACT’s dog owners, adding some bite to the Government’s bark – keep your animal on a lead or you will face the wrath of the Territory’s new flying squad and incur on-the-spot fines.

Part of the Government’s response to dog attacks in the Territory, new laws have come into force designating off and on-lead areas supported by a six-strong enforcement team, public education programs and a makeover of the city’s seven popular off-lead dog parks.

The new laws state that:

  • Unless otherwise identified on the new dog exercise maps, all public areas are dog on-lead, including street verges and footpaths
  • 10 metres either side of footpaths and cycle paths are dog on-lead areas
  • Dogs continue to be banned within 10 metres of playgrounds and barbecues when in use
  • Sportsgrounds will be off-lead except during formal sporting events
  • Lakes and ponds, unless otherwise signposted, will be dog on-lead areas.

Mr Steel said the changes restrict off-lead areas to certain parks, dog parks and ovals where no sport is taking place and were about improving public safety.

“For all other areas there is a very clear message –  keep your dog on a lead, it’s the law,” he said. “We have an enforcement team that is now out on the beat targeting off-lead dogs and there are penalties that apply for people who are doing the wrong thing.”

Penalties range from on-the-spot fines of $50 to court-ordered fines of $2400 for failure to effectively control an animal.

He said the changes had been designed so that people could feel safe walking, riding or taking young children on shared paths, open space areas and foreshore areas, while still ensuring significant off-leash areas were available, within around 800 metres in most areas, for dog owners who had effective control of their dog.

City Services Minister Chris Steel at Yarralumla Dog Park: his message is clear.

Mr Steel said the new dog strategy was part of a broader suite of changes under the Canberra Dog Model, including bite prevention programs in early childhood centres, and a pet census to get a better understanding of how many dogs and cats there are in the ACT so resources can be better deployed.

The education program aimed at children and new parents would start in the next school term to teach young families the skills they needed to be safe around dogs, which was proven to reduce dog bites.

“The restrictions make a lot of sense, if you’re on a footpath or street you shouldn’t be harassed by an off-lead dog. It doesn’t matter how friendly it is, some people are put off by dogs, and we want to encourage children to know how to approach dogs,” Mr Steel said.

He said the Government wanted to encourage dog owners to exercise their dogs responsibly and part of that was a $200,000 refurbishment of the off-lead dog parks, including re-seeding grass and making them more accessible.

A $200,000 refurbishment of the off-lead dog parks is meant to encourage exercise for dogs.

In the summer, the Government will be reviewing areas where dogs can swim in the city’s lakes so water retrievers and other dogs can ‘take a dip’.

Asked if tougher measures might be needed if the number of dog attacks did not fall, Mr Steel said the Government’s strategy would be constantly reviewed and adjusted.

The new designated dog exercise area maps are available here.


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41 Responses to Put a leash on your dog or be collared, Government warns
BigDave BigDave 8:06 am 18 Jul 19

This is a shame as its one of life’s pleasures to wander along with your dog allowed to roam and sniff. No doubt its aimed at the feral dogs not properly secured, but it will be good dog owners that pay any fines.

msgrumpy msgrumpy 6:21 pm 17 Jul 19

One of my leashed dogs was attacked and almost killed by an escaped dog a few years ago. 3 1/2 hours in surgery, 2 nights at the emergency vet ‘icu’ and $6,000 later I still had my darling. So I applaud the idea behind this but wonder how it is going to be enforced? I’ve had a heated discussion only a week ago with an owner out walking his dog off leash who charged me and my leashed dogs but how is such a person fined? And what about the wandering husky that some delivery drivers warned me about the other day causing me to backtrack on my walk? How is that owner meant to be found and fined? Am I meant to film all my walks ‘just in case’? I’d hate for this to be just another placebo law that the government has introduced like picking up after your dogs – has anyone ever been fined for breaching that law? Fingers crossed but I don’t hold out any great hope that this law will be able to be enforced.

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