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South Gippslanders “devoted to their pets”

Shire adopts animal management plan

Research via online surveys, submissions and face-to-face conversations has shown there’s no doubt that South Gippsland people love their small animals and want the best for them.

South Gippsland Shire Council voted unanimously to adopt the municipality’s Domestic Animal Management Plan 2022-2025 at the open meeting held in Leongatha on Wednesday November 16, 2022.

The 34-page document followed two stages of wide-ranging interactions and discussions between the Shire and local pet-owners, residents, and ratepayers.

 In the Plan’s introductory message Shire Mayor Mohya Davies wrote that “it was clear from our consultation that people are devoted to their pets, who are considered not animals but ‘family’, and this extended to species other than cats and dogs.

“We are dedicated to supporting and valuing pets in our community,” she stated, before summarising some of the Plan’s main points.

These include “ensuring pet owners understand they have a responsibility to care for and protect their pets, and that they do not adversely impact on other pets, people or the environment.”

The Plan will also see the Shire “delivering programs that work closely with our community to educate and encourage compliance with Council policy and State Government legislation relating to pets; and services within our community to address issues that relate to our pets.”

Under the Domestic Animals Act 1994, every Victorian local government must prepare a Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAMP) every four years outlining how it will manage dogs and cats within its municipal boundaries.

South Gippsland Shire’s previous DAMP expired in 2021 and an interim one-year action plan was put in place until a further three-year plan could be developed.

A report in the November 2022 meeting agenda indicated that the new 2022-2025 DAMP “supports a strategic approach towards promotion of responsible pet ownership and providing balance to the needs of pet owners and non-pet owners in our community.”

The report also said the DAMP will “ensure domestic animals are managed effectively protecting the environment and the health and safety of the community.”

During the consultation period many respondents backed introducing some form of cat containment, either a 24/7 or a night-time curfew, that would include farm cats as well as those living in urban areas of the Shire.

The Shire will also investigate bringing in “a leash order” as a way of reducing the risk of dog attaches and rushes.

The key areas of community focus and concern highlighted in the DAMP are:

  • Dogs being walked off-lead and not under effective control.
  • Wandering dogs.
  • Dog waste facilities when walking dogs.
  • Dog aggression.
  • Cats’ impact on native wildlife.
  • Wandering cats.
  • Cats not being desexed.
  • Irresponsible breeding.

After moving to adopt the Shire’s new DAMP at last Wednesday’s council meeting, Cr John Schelling praised the “collaborative way we’ve gone to the community”, and reiterated how important “the protection of people and their animals” is.

Seconder Cr Scott Rae said he thought the new DAMP had been “very well thought out and prepared”.

He observed that “we live in a community with very diverse needs”, pointing out the difference between household pets in evolving urban areas like Poowong at one end of the Shire, and “ a Hedley dairy farm with half-a-dozen working dogs and cats”.

Deputy Mayor Cr Nathan Hersey commented that it was “fantastic to see this outcome to the [community] engagement process.

“Our pets are close to our hearts,” he said, adding that now the DAMP is “in place, the council can work towards getting funding from the State Government” and possibly “look at leash-free areas in the future”.

Read the South Gippsland Shire Council Domestic Animal Management Plan 2022-2025 online at www. under the Animals button or as Attachment 3.1.1 in the November 16, 2022 council meeting agenda and minutes button.