By KATH GANNAWAY
DOGS could be allowed off-lead in the Hull Road Drainage Reserve in Mooroolbark, and cats and dogs prohibited in Mineshaft Reserve in Macclesfield and Wards Reserve in Monbulk, under a revision of Yarra Ranges Council’s animal laws.
Yarra Ranges residents will be asked for their views on proposed areas where dogs and cats are prohibited, where dogs can be exercised on or off a lead and on cat confinement controls that would require cat owners to keep their cats within their property either at only at night or 24/7 – or not at all.
When the council adopted the plan in September it agreed to review its current dog off-lead areas, rules for dogs on lead and areas where dogs and cats were prohibited.
It will also decide whether to reinstate the cat curfew that was in place in the former Animal Control Local Law.
The council voted on Tuesday to invite public submissions online allowing at least 42 days after which it will consider the submission and make a decision.
Some of the issues identified in calling for a review included the need for a definition for ‘leash’ and ‘effective control’ and that locations of off-lead and prohibited areas are not readily available.
In relation to existing off-lead areas, the report by the council’s planning, building and health department said there were not enough off-lead areas, some were too small and it was not clear where they started and finished.
Confinement of cats is more complex, and potentially controversial.
While councillors heard there were currently no shire controls that require cat owners to confine their cats to their own property – either day or night, apart from in certain locations such as parks and reserves, the report states there had been no obvious changes in the behaviours of cat owners.
The council was presented with ‘pros and cons’ of the overnight and 24-hour control which are also available to inform submissions by the public.
Cr Samantha Dunn urged the council to invite public submissions saying it was an important issue that she was sure would attract a lot of attention.
She said the cat curfew that had been in place had been “enormously successful”.
“What this motion seeks to do is give the community a couple of options in what they would like to see as the most appropriate confinement,” she said.
Mayor, Cr Fiona McAllister said the council wanted to hear not only what people think about the issues but encouraged the public to nominate their favourite places to exercise their dogs.
Residents can view maps of proposed dog off-lead areas and options for cat curfews online as well as nominating their favourite areas at www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au/catsanddogs