Dogs to be booted out of Maleny off leash zone

By Kirra Livingstone

MALENY dog owners are demanding the Sunshine Coast Council backs down over plans to drastically reduce off leash zoning at the Showgrounds.
The Council introduced the proposal this week with local councillor Winston Johnston telling GC&M News he was aware of a number of complaints aimed at dog owners.
Dogs are largely able to run free at the Showgrounds – excluding the main arena – however a proposed new off-leash area would limit the pets to a small section at the top corner of the showgrounds.
But dog owners including Dogs in Maleny group members said the proposals were overreach, with the response outweighing the poor behaviour of a small number of owners.

Dog owners currently meet nearly daily at the equestrian grounds when horses are not present, with the area providing a large zone for big and small dogs to run freely.
“There’s a lot of Maleny residents who will be affected by this, it’s very popular,” Maleny Dog Owner Community Inc (MDOC) president Sarah Windle said.
“They haven’t given us any transparency and if the reason for this is because of safety concerns with the horses, the equestrian group don’t complain about us being there as long as we are responsible.”
Maleny Equestrian Group Secretary Jillian Leigh said her group fully supported the Dogs In Maleny group, provided people followed rules and were respectful.
“This is a really valuable group its often the only chance some get to see other humans and dogs to see other dogs,” she said.
“I think putting a fence up to stop dogs from getting out is a really good idea… it only works if you shut the gates and some dog owners do not shut the gates.” Councillor Johnston said there had been complaints about some dog owners and said he was committed to an off-leash dog park at The Precinct.
“There have been some problems with a few dog owners who are not picking up after their dogs or persist letting their dogs go down to the horse area when there is horses there, which is very dangerous,” he said.
“I’m committed to an off-leash dog park in the precinct, we had another meeting about that yesterday, I hoped it would be in place by last December, but it’s going to take a bit longer because of a couple of bureaucratic issues that need to be sorted.”
MDOC association member Bo Williams met with Councillor Johnston to try and reach an agreement.
“We should add more signage, because there is basically no signage to educate people on what to do… common sense things like closing the gate, pick up your dog poo, signs to keep prompting people,” Bo said.
MDOC members highlighted issues with having a dog park at the precinct though such as being too close to the busy road and would rather keep the Maleny Showgrounds off leash areas the same with safety improvements instead.