Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Missing the boy

20100529 Munson, Old Fish Shop cafe, Holy Sheet

Five weeks to departure now. The most-repeated theme at the park in recent weeks is “What are we going to do without Munson?” 

Neither the oldest nor the biggest of the dogs there, he’s still the greeter of new pups, the policeman, the kisser of humans, and the dog who runs to farewell those departing. There’s a legacy of Bondi’s authority, but they’ve also seen him grow from eight-week old doofus to being described as “an icon” and “the safest dog in the park”.


Yesterday I had a call from Marrickville Council’s companion animal officer. She still had my number from two years ago when I called to complain about poor access to off-leash areas in this local government area (LGA), and in particular the greatly under-utilised Enmore Park. She promised me a copy of the draft animal management plan … and I’m still waiting for that.

In the meantime a draft plan for Enmore Park has been released and she’d called to see if I would make a submission.  I had in fact read this draft, noting that it:

1) acknowledges the park is popular for dog walkers, but makes it a high priority to not allow off-leash use, “in accordance with Council’s [unpublished] Dogs in Parks strategy.”

2) predefines dog use as a problem. No discussion.

3) fails to recognise any of the social benefits to residents of communal dog access.

I told her that I’d been making long submissions about dog access in the LGA and in particular for Enmore Park for two years, and that not once did the Council even acknowledge receipt of same. If I write through the same channels on development applications, or garbage or parking issues on my street I always get a response often within the week. Anything positive about dogs or critical of public spaces is ignored.

None of my submissions has been passed on to the animal officer. Other dog owners have reported to me that their correspondence on the same matters have been ignored. My guess is that there are anti-dog council officers who are suppressing these submissions so that only complaints are heard. This gives me reason for even more concern that residents’ wishes are being filtered to serve the interests of a few. Sad days. If one crosses a road to an adjacent LGA the access is much more open and balanced.

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