Ammo whammo

• Winnie and his dad Alain Otto, Megan Jaceglav and Woodman Point Beach Kiosk owner Nisantha Colomba with other dogs supporters furious to be kicked off Ammo Jetty beach. Mr Colomba says he’s facing losing at least a third of his trade if the ban goes ahead. Photo by Steve Grant.

Owners angry at leashed dog ban

COCKBURN dog owners say a ban on taking their pets to Ammo Jetty beach is unfair and robs them of their only safe environment.

As part of its animal management plan, the council has banned even leashed dogs from the beach from October 21, citing concerns for nesting fairy terns.

But owners such as Megan Jaceglav say alternative beaches left available for leashed dogs fail the council’s own criteria for suitable exercise areas.

“None of these, except the South Fremantle end of the South Fremantle beach, are in close vicinity to social opportunities and relaxation for dog parents, where the dog owner might relax and socialise in the world with their pet, with friends and others,” the Spearwood resident told the council in a recent deputation.

“The consequence of this proposal is to make the city’s population of 22,000 dogs and 50,000 dog owners have to drive kilometres south to a remote, non-swimmable, industrial setting beach at Jervois Bay.”

Ms Jaceglav said rangers were rarely seen there in case there was a dog attack, while it wasn’t a safe environment for women because it was isolated and used frequently by male-dominated activities such as fishing and kitesurfing.

Fellow dog lover Katya Mironova said she would be “devastated” by the ban as she comes nearly every day in summer.

Ms Mironova said after a dog was attacked at CY O’Connor Beach last year, she feared taking her small dog there and felt comfortable at Ammo Jetty where leashes were everywhere.

“Given this year has been very funny and people already have a lot of stress and anxiety, this is the only good thing that is free,” she said.

Tania Brenzie has a rescue dog from a pet haven and another dog that survived an attack, and she says there’s no way she can take them to the city’s remaining off-leash beaches.

“They are punishing us for being responsible dog owners,” she said.

Lucia Benova said the council’s consultation was a bit lacking, as she only found out through other dog owners; the council’s sign at Woodman Point still says it’s considering turning it into an off-leash area.

Ms Jaceglav was also critical of the council’s consultation and decision-making, saying when it surveyed the community, support for more coastal access for dogs was a high priority.

She says the council’s own documents all showed fairy tern nesting sites further south at the point, while evidence pointed to joggers, beachgoers and four-wheel drives having far more impact.

“And yet there is no suggestion in this report of any attempts to analyse, research, address or reduce human impact.

“At best this is nonsensical, at worst it is promoting and perpetuating harm to the bird populations in this area.”

The dog lovers have put a petition up, and within a couple of days it had cranked past 12,000; mind you, most of those came from overseas when the petition went a little viral. Local signatures are a little closer to 1000.

But the city’s environment manager Chris Beaton says scientific findings showed that walkers accompanied by dogs evoked greater flight responses from shorebirds than walkers alone.

“The EIA cites research (Maguire, 2018) which shows that domestic dogs are known to chase adult shorebirds and beach nesting birds which can impact birds’ ability to rest and seek food, and can lead to prolonged absences from eggs and chicks,” Mr Beaton said.

“This suggests that dogs are seen by shorebirds as much more of a threat than people, as dogs are more likely to catch and kill them or their chicks.”

By STEVE GRANT

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