Dog owners call for parks

BEST FRIENDS: Marcie Cheers, of Mayfield, with her two-year-old maltese shih tzu cross PoppySeed at Newcastle’s Horseshoe beach on Tuesday. Dog owners’ groups have called for fenced dog parks across the city. Picture: Tim ConnellTHE death of a dog that bolted froma Croudace Bayreserve underlinesthe need for fenced dog parks in the Hunter, a leading pet owners’ group says.

Last Monday afternoona shar pei dog ran fromThomas H Halton Park into the path of a car on Bareki Road inwhat was, Dog Rescue Newcastle President Sue Barker said, an accident waiting to happen.

“It only takes the dog to be spooked and they’re gone,” Ms Barker said.

“There’s no second chances on that road.”

The relationshipat Thomas H Halton between walkers, cyclists and dog owners istesty, with a presentation to Lake Macquarie council in May calling fortheoff-leash area to be fenced.

Some dog ownersaccuse cyclists ofmowing them down and even “kicking dogs out of the way”, presenter Loraine Branzsaid, buta subsequentHeraldpoll found only 39 per cent of respondents in favour of fencing in the park.

Ms Barker said Newcastle, across the Newcastle City and Lake Macquarie council areas, is almostalone among cities its sizein lackinga designated, fenced dog park.

Owners who let their dogs off-leashin Newcastlefind parksonly partially fenced, Ms Barker said, “full of bindiis” and next to busy roads.

“We don’t have a fenced park anywhere in the Hunter.

You go to other cities and towns and they have two,” Ms Barker said.

“Dog owners are ratepayersand we have no decent facilities. Lake Macquarie council has tunnel vision when it comes to everything except sporting facilities.”

A Lake Macquarie City council spokeswoman said the council is reviewing community feedback ahead ofan upgrade toThomas H Halton Park.

“Potential upgrades for the park could includea dog agility area, as well as outdoor gym equipment, running loop and cycling connections, open space for events, BMX track, disc golf course, learner bicycle circuit and obstacles, improved amenity blocks, picnic areas, a new playground and upgraded skate park,” the spokeswoman said.

“The draft plan is expected to be presented to council in early 2017, prior to public exhibition.”

Lake Macquarie councillor Jason Pauling, who chaired the companion animals advisory committee for four years, said a reserve at Vermont Place, Warners Bay could be fenced for off-leash use “as a demonstration piece”.

At Newcastle’s Horseshoe Beach on Thursday with her maltese shih tzusPoppySeed, Sesame Seed and mum Renee,Marcie Cheers said she would “definitely” use a fenced-off dog park.

“Sometimes we take them to a park in Islington, or King Edward Park, and they’re next to roads,” Ms Cheers, 20, of Mayfield said.

“You worry about them running off.”

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