Keep Our Dog Parks Free!

I respect the fact that there are some owners who’d rather not have their dogs mix with others but, on the whole, most people love to see their dogs running around, stretching their legs and socializing freely with other dogs. It’s fantastic exercise for the dogs, it provides mental stimulation and it teaches them to interact well with other dogs. Those people who frequent the likes of Dead Man’s Pass and Clonlea Park would attest to the fact that dog-walking is also a great way for the owners to get out and socialize! All in all, there are huge benefits for the community.

As Gawler residents, we’ve always been very lucky to have plenty of spaces where we can take our dogs for a walk in a relaxed environment and with dogs allowed to run ‘off-leash’.  It would seem, however, that all of this is about to change, if Gawler Council has its way!

Those of you reading the local papers will know that council is ‘reviewing’ the regulations that dictate where owners can take their dogs for a run. Although council has stated that it is merely going through the exercise of ‘community consultation’, it would seem that much of the planning around this has already occurred and involves massively reducing the options for off-leash exercise.

This issue was discussed in ‘community consultation’ two years ago and the response was heavily weighted in favour of those who supported the status quo. In other words, very few people wanted to lose our off-leash dog areas. If you have a look at the Gawler council website, however, it would seem that council intends to ignore the views of the community. The maps contained on this webpage show that the vast majority of our parks are to be designated ‘on-leash’ areas, including Dead Man’s Pass and Clonlea Park.

I just had a long conversation with the council’s ‘Team Leader for Environment and Regulatory Services’. He’s the person with overall responsibility for the proposal to change most of Gawler’s park areas from off-leash to on-leash. He’s a very friendly person to speak to and assures me that dogs will still be able to run freely in the designated ‘dog parks’. When you dig down into this a bit more, however, you realise that these wonderful parks comprise of an area of roughly 30×40 metres for large dogs and a separate area for small dogs (apparently the two can’t mix). Not sure about your dogs but mine would barely get into a run before hitting the fence in a space that small!

From our point of view as vets, dogs are more likely to fight in a restricted dog-park than in a larger area where they feel less threatened. There is also a higher likelihood of passing on any transmissible disease where dogs are confined to a small fenced-off zone.

It was mentioned that most other councils have far less space than Gawler for dog-walking. To me, that seems like a fantastic advert for our town. Actually, I came across a family just yesterday who’d driven up from Adelaide with their two Border Collies, ‘Cooper’ and ‘Remi’, speficially to allow them a run in Dead Man’s Pass!The implication from council, however, seems to be that the example set by city councils should be an incentive for us to ‘down-size’ our parks. That beggars belief and, in my view at least, is an absolutely backward way of looking at things. Seriously, what happened to ‘Best of Town and Country’? If you’re a town planner that wants to introduce city measures, go and live/work in the city!

It was also mentioned that bike-riders have complained that they don’t feel safe riding through the parks because of dogs. I’m a bike-rider myself and appreciate what they’re saying but there are plenty other places you can go to ride your bike including a 50km designated bike track leading from Gawler to Angaston. If you don’t like riding your bike through a dog park, don’t go there in the first place!!

At Gawler Animal Hospital, we have many clients who regularly walk their dogs in our wonderful parks. They’re rightly horrified that they’re about to lose this luxury. We’re with them 100% on this and think that council needs to stop this insanity. I’m in the process of writing to council on the matter and I’d encourage all dog-owners to do the same. You have until 18th March to do so but please, if you share the views of the vast majority of Gawler dog-owners, make a submission to council and make your voice heard.








Picture of Anne Crouch

Anne Crouch

17 thoughts on “Keep Our Dog Parks Free!”

  1. Thank you for writing this, I share your views on this matter and feel very strongly about it. I have always walked my Kelpie X off leash in parks etc for 14 years it has not been an issue, she is well behaved, obedience trained, and under control at all times.
    I wont use dog parks because my dog is timid and dislikes the attention of other dogs and I tend to agree that dog parks can lead to an increase in dog aggression. As you also mention, a 30 x 40 m enclosure is not enough room to exercise a kelpie!
    If the council prohibits dogs off leash except in dog parks then I will be travelling out of Gawler to use the parks and ares of other council areas.
    Thank you for the link, i’ll definitely be leaving my opinion.

  2. THANK YOU, I and hundreds of others agree 100% and feel devastated for our dogs who are our family!

  3. I was so amazed to hear of this idea of the council. I have been taking my dog for a walk quite a while, almost everyday & at different times & always take him off his lead when it is safe to do so. He would be so sorry if he wouldn’t be allowed to do that. He loves interacting with other dogs (big & small) which is good for all dogs. There would be so few people that wouldn’t be bothered to control their dogs because most people love their animals & are pretty much trained. The comment that cyclists have made is a bit unfair. I can only say to them they should be aware they should have a bell on their bike to let people know they are behind them, not only for safety to people but so the owners can tell their dogs sit & then there wouldn’t be a problem would there?

  4. I thought that was well said
    I go to read and pass every morning at 6.45 am
    And meet Lovley people Lovley dogs all friendly
    All off lead it would be tragic if this stopped.
    There is no way I would ever take my dog to a dog park. They can be places where dog fights start

  5. I agree that we should choose to have our dogs on or off leash but there should be one rule … if you can’t control your dog off leash and recall it then it should remain on a leash. My leashed anxious border collie does not appreciate other dogs in his face that are off leah.

    • That’s actually eh current rule. “Effective control” is th me current council requirement.

      This should STAY this way with hefty penalties for failure to comply.

      It’s like the registration fee reduction for dogs that have been to puppy school though. All well and good, but if your dog data dumped that information and you didn’t back up the training, you have reduced fees for no return. I have never been to a puppy school with my dogs and yet they have far better behaviour than the majority of dogs in the neighbourhood who have a “certificate”.

  6. Gawler Council’s Consultation Process concerning the On/Off leash areas seems to present inconsistent information. pdf maps for Clonlea Reserve and Dead Mans Pass are captioned “On Leash” areas but the pdf document “…signs required” states that the Clonlea Reserve is “proposed timed shared use and “Dead Mans Pass is “Timed Shared use”. In addition the geographic map of the On Off Leash areas represents Clonlea Reserve as both On and Off Leash and Dead Mans Pass is not designated. How are the people of Gawler supposed to make informed submissions to the Council when the data supplied is contradictory?

  7. Always walkepd Buddy off leash, made lots of human friends and doggie friends, he loves to socialize with the other dogs, have been coming here for years why change it.

  8. The comments made by Gawler South Vet Clinic are exactly the way I feel. I have been walking my dogs for 17 years leash free in these parks,since moving to Gawler. It is by far the best part of Gawler and has made me many friends over the years. The dogs love interacting with the other dogs while their owners chat. I would also be concerned about whether the dogs confined to a small space in a dog park have been immunised agains parvo and kennel cough. In a leash free area I can choose which dogs I allow my dog to play with. Most owners are responsible, some like to save money by not immunising their dogs.

  9. These designated areas would be great if i needed to exercise a rabbit! But 30 x 40 isnt big enough, just imagine 10 or 15 dogs in there, they wouldn’t be able to move. Really? Come on use some common sense, and listen to the rate payers for a change, be a community minded council and break the mold.

  10. i have been taking my dog to Clonlea park since he was a pup thats 11 yrs now , i have had the best days there with other owners and their dogs made great friendships and followed through with lovely photos of everyone getting on together, People that have dogs that are not friendly keep them on leads, it is common sense and everyone is okay with this. but now it seems as Gawler Council does not have any Common Sense about this insanity that it is trying to put forward , Humans are the ones that cause destruction at the park not Dogs, just take a look at all the money that is being spent on vandalism at the park???? it is the dog owners and the dogs that are paying the price for this.

  11. Thank you for this article.

    I whole heartedly agree. Responsible pet owners will continue to exercise their dogs off leash in a courteous manner. Irresponsible pet owners would ignore any changes to the rules. Makes the whole change irrelevant and unnecessary.

  12. I love the idea of a dog park, but 30x40m is a joke! I often travel to Stebonheath or Salisbury dog parks for my two boys to have a zoomy session with friends. BUT – I can’t understand why they are getting rid of the off-leash option.
    I don’t walk my boys offlead, because as friendly as they are, Clifford is a wolfy x, believes that everyone needs luv now, and will barrel at people determined to be their new best friend. Bronson is 9 months old, black, and 60kg. Scary looking although a giant snugglebug. So onlead walks.
    I love to see everyone else having so much fun, and all the free socialisation is always a benefit to Animal Control. I might have to go down to Dead Mans and see if you friendly people are ok to let me boys deliver random luvs down there! Lol!!

  13. I disagree dogs are a menace on the walking cycling trails 90% of dogs are of the leash running uncontrolled many dog attacks on cyclists and runners walkers thats what these tracks were constructed for not dogs running free I own 3 dogs they are walked on a leash everyday for 2 or 3 miles my dogs are under effective control at all times yet we have been attacked several times by unsupervised dogs all dogs should be leashed in public at all times cyclist runners walkers come to the trails for safety away from dangerous road traffic I totally support council on this. JW

    • Thanks Jay, as always there are differing opinions on these topics. I respect yours and am sorry to hear you’ve had bad experiences of off-leash parks. Kind regards, Dave MacPhail


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