Lifestyle

Council leashes popular dog park

Suzi Hudson and Ben Dieriks with their guide dogs Cooper and Kane at Arkinstall Park.
Suzi Hudson and Ben Dieriks with their guide dogs Cooper and Kane at Arkinstall Park. Blainey Woodham

TWEED Shire Council has decided to remove the 'off-leash' status of a dog exercise area adjacent to Arkinstall sports fields in Tweed Heads South.

The exercise area's demise is part of a planned upgrade of Arkinstall Park that will see new facilities built for tennis and netball as well as a children's play area created at the park.

Due to the planned changes there will no longer be any room to include an off-leash dog exercise area.

Local vision impaired guide dog owner and member of the Tweed Equal Access Advisory Committee (TEAAC) Ben Dierikx said "elected councillors and paid employees of council have little comprehension of the value dogs add to human society and little regard for those of us in the Tweed Shire who rely on dogs to live an independent life with dignity".

Tweed mayor Barry Longland said he believed the shire should provide adequate off-leash dog exercise areas as long as it didn't impact on public safety.

"We're not doing this because we dislike dogs.

"We've been trying to find a middle ground and are looking for alternatives.

"However, I can't accept off-leash dog exercise areas should be mixed with children's playgrounds."

Guide dog owner Suzi Hudson who uses the Arkinstall Park off-leash area almost every day said the alternative dog exercise areas indicated by council were either too far away and difficult to access.

"I'd be taking my life into my own hands if I tried to walk to Banora Point to exercise my dog.

"Alternatively, I'd have to spend $20 or more on a taxi to get there."

Ms Hudson said it was extremely important for dogs to become familiar with each other so aggressive behaviour could be avoided.

Dogs also need to be familiar with the area because if they and their owners aren't used to the location, owners and dogs could become anxious.

"To go to an unfamiliar area would be very scary," Ms Hudson said.

The owner's feelings can be picked up by the animals which  then refuse to exercise and remain at the side of their owners.

Familiarity with their regular exercise area is crucial for dogs to get proper exercise.

Tweed councillor and member of the TEAAC Dot Holdom said she supported what Mr Dierikx was trying to do but she was looking for a compromise.

Cr Holdom didn't think anyone would be so small-minded as to criticise the existence of the off-leash areas as long as there weren't any children's play areas involved.

However, this matter was all about balance and balancing the needs of all residents of the shire.

Ms Hudson and Mr Dierikx also criticised the council for the manner in which the information regarding the removal of off-leash status was disseminated to residents.

Ms Hudson said the council has used a format inaccessible to her and should have used audio arrangements to get their message across to people who were vision impaired.

If she had found out about the issue sooner, she would have made representations to the council at its monthly community access meeting, and feels she might have made a difference.

Mr Dierikx said the matter showed there was an attitude problem and believed it was a cultural thing.

Dogs' contributions to people's lives are underestimated in Australia and far better understood in European countries such as France.

In France people allowed dogs access to many more places and they understood the impact dogs had on people's lives.

"When people interact with dogs in a positive way, a chemical called Oxytocin is released in the brain.

"This is the same chemical which is responsible for mothers bonding with their babies and is very powerful and beneficial," Mr Dierikx said.

A Tweed Shire Council spokeswoman said the changes to the park had been part of the Arkinstall Park Master Plan since 2006.

Feedback  the council received during the public consultation phase of the project was that local residents wanted more basic community facilities included, such as a playground and more paths.

The Companion Animals Act says that no dogs, whether on a leash or off-leash, should be within 10 metres of a playground.

Although this did not apply to assistance animals, unfortunately plans do not provide enough usable area for an off-leash dog park in this location.

There are several off-leash dog areas in the Tweed, with parks at Ducat Street and Darlington Drive located in the Tweed Heads South area.

The council has an Equal Access Committee to ensure these issues are considered.

In addition, the council was the process of developing an access and inclusion plan which would be considered by  in the coming months.

"Council is committed to improving the way Council responds to people with disabilities," the spokeswoman said.

Topics:  animals guide dogs off-leash tweed heads south tweed shire council



More than 130 tradies, staff hit by collapse of builder

Paul Travis Callender and Amber Patrice Callender

Queensland One Homes' building licence suspended by watchdog

Tweed fire crews tackle yet another Mwy blaze

Firefighters have been called to a large number of blazes near the highway in Tweed Heads South in recent weeks.

Tweed firefighters urge residents to be vigilant after Mwy blaze

Chris Hurley appeals conviction over high speed chase

Chris Hurley at his trial at Southport Magistrates Court last month. Picture: Regi Varghese/AAP

Pursuit saw shots fired at getaway car

Local Partners

Leave empathy at the door

Night of Abilities brings full suite of performers to the stage


Jemma's bewitching voice

STAGE PRESENCE: Suzie Mathers and Jemma Rix in a scene from Wicked The Musical.

Wicked musical theatre star Jemma Rix has released her debut album.

This laughter yoga video will have you in fits of giggles

BEST MEDICINE: Karen Flannery is spreading happiness through laughter throughout Hervey Bay.

New members needed for a laughing good time

NCEIA Dolphin Awards looking for the best of 2017

NEVER TOO LATE: Ivan Perger, 66, received his first NCEIA Dolphin Award in the folk category in 2014.

Entries to the North Coast music awards are now open

OPINION: Bachelor really crossed the line

Leah’s abrupt Bachelor exit is slut-shaming at its worst.

Marvel stars tease superhero epic

The four year wait for Marvel's The Defenders is over.

The Defenders stars on their long-awaited superhero team-up.

The two stars who intimidated Chris Hemsworth

Chris Hemsworth was intimidated by two other Hollywood stars.

Thor star says he was ‘weirdly shaken’ when he met two other actors.

Sam Newman: How a Playboy magazine changed everything

The new crew of The Footy Show.Source:Supplied

How a Playboy magazine changed everything.

Leah slams Matty: ‘I was incredibly disappointed’

Leah says she was ‘incredible disappointed’ with Matty J.

BACHELOR evictee's controversial chat with Kyle and Jackie O.

John Eales finds peace with the haka

Inia Maxwell and John Eales in a scene from the documentary John Eales Reveals: The Haka.

Rugby legend is on a quest to learn about a sacred Maori tradition/

The Bachelor recap: Secret pasts publicly exposed

Matty J is left speechless on The Bachelor.

TWO Bachelor contestants’ secret adult pasts have been exposed.

199 home sites approved in Evans Head

The Evans Head Manufactured Home Estate plans. Zoran Architecture.

Manufactured Home estate approved near aerodrome

Airbnb, Stayz and co tipped to squeeze Coast housing market

HOLIDAY BOOM: Airbnb letting is putting a further squeeze on long-term rentals.

Councils exploring options to manage the industry

Developer tears up couple's contract for new home

Jade and Edward Roberts were stung by the sunset clause on the first day of their honeymoon.

The developer has the right to do this under the sunset clause

Reports of Ibrahim family connections to farm and food hub

John Ibrahimat Bluesfest 2012.

REPORTS circulate colourful Sydney family have investments on the NR