A Manly Councillor has been savaged on social media with his comment that people who can’t walk dogs themselves don’t deserve to own one.
And it’s got legs, running on interstate and other online sites, and prompting mocking retorts such as; “You shouldn’t have children if you rely on childcare?”
Liberal Cr Alan Le Surf made the comment during a council debate on new licensing policies for commercial dog walking in Manly.
The discussion was prompted by Good For Manly Cr Candy Bingham’s call for a review of the policy, which banned commercial walkers from LM Graham Reserve, reduced their numbers and limited the number of dogs they could walk each day.
It infuriated dog owners, who said the new policy was unfair and had been introduced without community consultation.
Local vet Dr Beth McDonald said about 50% of households already have a dog, and that number is likely to increase as changes to strata laws make apartment buildings more pet friendly. She said studies have shown that pets are good for their owners’ wellbeing, especially in an ageing population where many people live on their own.
And while most people walk their own animals as much as they can, many need professional walkers to fill in the gaps. And some, such as unwell, or poorly-sighted older people, could never cope on their own. Not enough dog walkers would mean more restless, barking dogs driving the neighbours crazy.
In the end the councillors played ball, with a new park - Manly West in Balgowlah - to be considered as a new fully-fenced site. As well the council will make sure that local dog walkers are favoured over out-of-area businesses when license permits are given out.
“It’s a good outcome,” Cr Bingham said.
“I know the dog walkers loved LM Graham Reserve, because it was fully-fenced and very safe for dogs, but it was becoming over-used and there were problems with sports people and lots of dogs sharing the same space.
“The reserve is still available for people to walk their own dogs and now we will have an additional fully-fenced area nearby.”
The new policies will be reviewed in September next year.
Image: Dr McDonald with her labrador Ned. She says exercise and socialisation are essential for dogs.
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor, Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations & community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.