Parents angry: Playground set up in middle of an off-leash dog park

By JULIA PASSARELLI

A new playground in Dendy Park South is being criticised by parents for being built in an off leash dog park.

Elsternwick mother Andrea Ojaimy said her two children were left screaming and crying after being approached by dogs at the playground.

“Dogs were just everywhere. They were running all over the playground,” Ms Ojaimy said.

Bayside City Council Mayor Laurence Evans said more rangers had now been assigned to Dendy Park to ensure unleashed dogs were being kept away from the playground.

“We’ve said to our officers that we need to enforce the rules a bit better. With enforcement, let’s see how that tackles the problem before we go to other methods such as a fence,” he said.

Under state and local laws, dog owners using off leash areas are expected to have their dogs under effective control. The council’s local laws state that dogs must not be off leash within 20m of a playground.

Ms Ojaimy said she and her children were sitting down next to the playground when a dog approached them.

“My kids are petrified of dogs so they were screaming their heads off. This dog had its head literally in their faces and it just wouldn’t go away.

“I was calling out ‘who owns this dog’ and no one was owning up to it. We found out the owner was a woman who was just standing there, not doing anything.”

Andrea Ojaimy in front of the new playground at Dendy Park South. Picture: Julia Passarelli

“While it’s commonsense for some, it may not be for others that dogs aren’t meant to be unleashed on the playground,” Ms Ojaimy said.

“It’s hard because for people that have both dogs and kids it’s the perfect answer. But without a fence it’s so hard for the kids to enjoy it without getting hassled by dogs.

“I definitely wouldn’t be able to bring my kids back to the playground, which is a shame because it’s such a good park.”

Cr Evans said the problem came down to some dog owners being unaware of their responsibilities.

“We have the highest proportion of dogs owners within the state in Bayside. People like their dogs here. So we need to make sure all these people know their responsibilities with dogs when they are in off leash areas,” Cr Evans said.

“It’s not widely known that the dog has to be under voice control of the owner. So we need more education for dog owners and to improve the training of dogs so that when they are off leash, they are able to be recalled.”