Council adopted the Draft Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAMP) on the 18 October 2022. The plan describes how Council will meet its responsibilities under the Domestic Animals Act 1994. The plan provides direction to Council on how they will encourage improvement of responsible pet ownership across the Shire with a focus on reducing instances of nuisance animals and promoting animal welfare.
Prior to developing the new DAMP, Hepburn Shire Council invited input from the community, where a large number of responses were received. Results of the community feedback highlighted the following common areas of concern:
- Nuisance cats (including feral cats) – concern regarding cats being a general nuisance including attack on birds and other native wildlife
- Dog aggression and attacks - regular incidence of dogs rushing when not on a lead or showing aggression, causing fear of possible attack towards people, pets or livestock
- Dog walking issues – request for more on lead law enforcement, more off lead dog parks and a ban on dogs off lead within main streets
- Lack of education and enforcement - request for increased council intervention, enforcement and officer presence, responsible pet ownership education, reporting systems and Council incentives
What are the new actions of the Domestic Animal Management Plan 2021-2025?
The community feedback has been used to inform several new actions and priority areas of the plan. Some of these priorities include:
- Exploring the feasibility of introducing a cat curfew and implementing recommendations of this review
- Undertaking a dog park planning project, including development of an Off-Lead Dog Park Master Plan and implementing the recommendations of this plan
- Investigating alternative ways that the community can report dog attacks to encourage reporting and reduce the incidence of subsequent attacks
- Increasing community education programs by developing a more structured education plan regarding responsible pet ownership including a social media plan, community education program and Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife education
- Providing support for families experiencing domestic violence by providing free pet respite care for up to 14 days
- Improving monitoring and reporting against the major objectives of the plan to ensure this remains a live document that is used to promote continuous improvement to animal management within the Shire.
Thank you to all the community members who submitted feedback during both the broad engagement and the public exhibition of the Draft Domestic Animal Management Plan. All submissions are being considered before the final plan is adopted by Council in September.
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