Local girl petitions for Torquay dog park

June 24, 2021 BY

Lennon, Simon and Lucca Walsh with their one-year-old whippet Ziggy. Photo: PETER MARSHALL

THE proposal for a Torquay North dog park has gained more than 100 signatures in less than 48 hours with the community rallying behind seven-year-old advocate Lucca Walsh.

As the owner of Ziggy – a one-year-old whippet – Lucca said dogs like hers needed a designated place to be able to run around without disrupting local soccer teams.

“Ziggy loves going to the football pitch and playing with his friends like Izzy, Charlie, Cassie, Reef, Coco and Falcon,” she said.

Representing their families dual-interest with a petition, Lucca said sharing the field was impractical for both dog owners and soccer players including her five-year-old brother Lennon, who plays for the Surf Coast Football team.

“At the weekend kids might step on dog poo and dog owners can’t exercise their dog,” she said.

“That is why we need an actual dog park.”

Making the petition on behalf of his daughter, Simon Walsh said the demand for a local facility had grown with the recent increase in dog ownership over the COVID-19 period.

At the time of print the petition had received 466 signatures in just 10 days.

While Mr Walsh knew there was a demand for the community infrastructure, he was surprised to see so many people take the time to sign the online petition found on change.org.

“We appreciate council has other commitments and things to manage but a suitable fenced area is a logical first step and other elements can grow over time,” he said.

“My daughter knows conceptually our dog is a sight hound by nature so he will see something far away and run towards it.

“It is a part of their inherent being, so they need a fenced environment, and my daughter understands that.”

Mr Walsh compared the successful opening of the Belmont Dog Park to the skate park movement that made a “real thrust a decade ago” with facilities beginning to pop up in each community.

“Fenced dog parks are in some sort or another a new community amenity that we will come to expect,” he said.

“They are low-cost and low maintenance but highly rewarding for the community.

“If we can have a pool and support the operational funding for that then surely a low-cost dog park is something they can facilitate in this calendar year.”

With more than 6,300 registered dogs on the shire, acting general manager for environment and development Matt Taylor said a dog park has been on the radar since 2019.

“As part of council’s 2016-25 Open Space Action Plan and the 2017-21 Domestic Animal Management Plan, we investigated the potential of a dog park in Torquay,” he said.

“The survey garnered a strong community response with 228 respondents – 89 per cent who were dog owners.

“The findings also suggested while a dog park might be popular it was not an urgent priority but should remain a consideration as Torquay continues to grow.”

Mr Taylor said council would commence consultation on the shire’s dog regulations and a new Domestic Animal Management Plan with the input to determine whether the current on/off leash areas are appropriate.

“This is when we will next consider if a dog park in Torquay is required to ensure we have the right mix of off leash options for dog owners,” he said.