Colin Bentley dog owner

A GROUP of dog owners in Red Cliffs claim they are feeling “harassed” by council rangers for walking their dogs off-leash at Quandong Park early in the morning.

While local laws stipulate dogs must be on a lead, as there is no designated dog park in Red Cliffs, dog owners say the rules should be relaxed.

Margaret Egas has been walking dogs at Quandong Park for a number of years, off leash.

“Everybody else has, too, and we’ve always had them off lead, so they can play and run. But we’ve never had any trouble,” she said.

“When we see dogs we don’t know, we put our dogs on leads, until they meet. And all of a sudden we get rangers coming around, threatening us with fines.”

Cancer survivor Colin Bentley, 79, says he makes a special effort to walk his dogs early “when no-one is around”.

“It’s ridiculous, it’s 20 to 7 in the morning, and I purposely go early so there’s no-one around,” he said.

‘”I’m not a young bloke, I’ve got two fractured vertebrae in my lower back, it hurts to walk, but I still walk my dogs.”

Mildura is trialling an off-leash dog park, which Colin has made an effort to visit.

“But it was such a nightmare with three dogs, getting them in and out of the car, and the dog threw up coming home, I thought ‘I can’t do this’. I don’t live in Mildura, I live in Red Cliffs.

“I pay my rates, nearly $1600, thank you very much.

“You don’t want me to walk the dogs off the lead, fine, you designate an area where I can,” he said.

A spokesperson from Mildura Rural City Council says council is investigating opportunities for additional off-leash dog parks across the municipality, including Red Cliffs.

But dogs and their owners will have to wait at least three years to hear if Red Cliffs will get a dog park.

“Once council’s new recreation strategy is endorsed, a community planning process will need to be undertaken in the first instance to determine suitable locations,” the spokesperson said.

“Council’s new recreation strategy is expected to be endorsed in the first half of 2021, with the draft strategy available for public comment in January.

“Community feedback was received during the development of this strategy for additional off-leash facilities.

“The new strategy will look to increase the distribution of off-leash areas, with a report developed in 2022-23 as to suitable locations and asset types,” the spokesperson said.