Pets are very much a part of many peoples’ lives. They provide companionship and they improve mental and physical health and well-being. But domestic animals can also cause problems in the community can be a source of disputes between community members.

Council is required under the Domestic Animal Act to develop a management plan and to review that plan on a four-yearly basis.

To that end, Council has developed a draft Draft Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAMP) 2021/2025 based in part on input which was invited from the community. The Draft Plan is now open for community feedback through the Participate Hepburn website.

Community input to the draft plan highlighted a number of issues which needed to be addressed including nuisance and feral cats, aggressive dogs, dog walking issues including the need for more off-lead parks, a perceived lack of enforcement and a need for public education.

The most common complaints received by council relate to barking dogs, uncontained dogs and stray or feral cats. There are several actions and priorities in the draft plan to address these issues.

One proposal is to exploring the feasibility of introducing a cat curfew. Approximately 90% of respondents to the community consultation supported the introduction of a cat curfew to address concerns about stray cats in the community and the impact of cats on native wildlife.

A large number of respondents (58%) had concerns about dogs which were not effectively controlled in public. Council will consider greater enforcement of current laws and develop a master plan for off-lead dog parks.

Council also proposes to increase community education programs about responsible pet ownership including social media and community education programs.

You can read the Draft Plan and comment on the draft on the Participate Hepburn website. Comments close at 5:00 pm on September 8.