By Kerron May
Hornsby Council is taking proposals either for or against the proposed introduction of an off leash dog park area within the grounds of Fagan Park at Galston. The site of the facility will be adjacent to the service road on the eastern side between two amenities blocks and picnic table facilities near the North American garden. It will be accessed from the main Arcadia Road car park or a short walk from the Carrs Road entrance at the lower end. Controversially the site which is approximately 11,600m2 in area will not to be fenced so it will be up to owners and/or handlers to ensure their dogs are well behaved and responsive to voice commands and sight controls. Dogs, however, have no concept of or respect for boundaries and rely on sight, smell and curiosity in their roaming which leads them astray.
Hornsby Council has prepared a well constructed Off Leash Dog Park Strategy setting out the need for this type of facility which would allow for human/canine bonding, exercising for both and building relationships between other dog owners and their charges. Whilst agreeing with these laudable and worthy objectives, I have reservations on the basis of safety for other park users including other dog owners who have young or elderly dogs, nervous or excitable animals who may be at risk or be threatened if rushed at by unleased and uncontrolled dogs escaping outside the leash free area. This happens in the Park even now, although it is a totally designated area where dogs must be leashed at all times.
The answer would be to fully and securely fence the proposed area to ensure everyone is not only safe but can enjoy their particular pastime in the Park without fear or threat, particularly children.
Suffice to say one dog attacked, one child mauled is one too many. All dogs and their owners deserve consideration in the use of Park facilities but let’s not lose sight of safety issues. There have been dog attacks in the Park in recent years and it is presently a leashed only facility.
All Fagan Park users are encouraged to view the Hornsby Council off leash proposal and make their comments known by 30 March, 2021.
Remember it is our Park and we have a say in how it is used, so make your voice heard.