DOG walkers on Stevens Reserve are fuming after Fremantle council removed the popular site’s gates without warning last week.
The council has been fielding complaints from the Fremantle Cricket Club that owners aren’t paying enough attention to their pets, allowing them to damage their turf wicket and interrupt training. A few owners of smaller dogs have also raised concerns that the inattention is also causing their pooches to receive unwanted attention from more boisterous animals.
But walkers told the Herald said it felt as if dog owners were being treated like naughty children and punished by having the gates removed.
Michelle McKenzie lives across the road and takes Arlo for daily walks on the reserve and said while there were a few owners glued to their phone while their dogs ran amok, most were a mature-enough bunch the council could have communicated with before reaching for the stick.
Ms McKenzie said she’s already seen some pets go running towards the road, even when their owners are paying attention.
“If there’s a loud sound, or some movement, they just shoot out the gate – they just bolt,” she told the Herald.
Ms McKenzie and other regular walkers fronted question time at the council’s monthly meeting on Wednesday, armed with a 300-strong petition calling on the council to axe a one-month “dog management” trial at the reserve.
They queried whether there was consultation before the decision was made, believing the cricket club had the council’s ear and was pushing the no-gate agenda. They also wanted to know how the council planned to evaluate the success of the trial.
Cheekily, they also asked the council if there were plans to remove gates at the Fremantle Leisure Centre to force parents of young children to be more attentive as well.
Ms McKenzie said if dogs running on the pitch was the main problem as she suspects, the council would have been better spending money on good-quality fencing that could be easily moved in and out on game days, rather than building the rarely-used dog exercise area which languishes behind a fence on the far side of the ground.
“I don’t think that was really well thought through,” she told the Herald.
by STEVE GRANT