Monday, January 7, 2019

It's time the tail stopped wagging the dog

One has to feel sorry for South Hobart FC in regard to what is being done to the grounds they hire for matches at South Hobart Oval and Wellesley Park.

The club pays for the hire of these grounds and it is reasonable to expect the grounds to be in safe and sanitary condition when matches are played there.

The players’ welfare, including that of junior players, is surely part of the equation.

But, the Hobart City Council apparently regards the grounds as suitable for dog walking when games are not being played.

Complaints by the South Hobart club about dog droppings being left on the grounds and having to be cleared by club volunteers before games appear to be legitimate.

The club president, Victoria Morton, also says dogs urinate on the grass, discolouring it and possibly making it unsanitary.

The issue is certainly a bone of contention, and it seems more and more like a case of the tail wagging the dog when it comes to the involvement of a local dog walking group.

The group is reported to have claimed the dog droppings are really wallaby droppings.

As one who regularly walks on ovals (belonging to a different city council) for exercise, I find it hard to believe that one could mistake a dog’s droppings for wallaby droppings.

I can also attest to the fact that at least one council is very slow to act, if at all, against dog owners who walk their animals in prohibited areas, let alone against those who don’t clean up after their pets.

Other HCC sports grounds have bans on dogs.  North Hobart Oval is a prime example.  It is a sacred AFL ground, after all.

South Hobart Oval was for many years the ‘headquarters’ of soccer in southern Tasmania.  It has been likened to sacred ground in terms of the history of the game in this State.

It is enclosed, so why shouldn’t dogs be banned from being exercised on it?  The well-being of players, including young players, should be paramount, and that argument applies also to Wellesley Park.

This is an area where Football Federation Tasmania should bring some weight to bear.  South Hobart Oval is, after all, a major ground.

Not only does it host NPL Tasmania games  -  the top-tier soccer competition in Tasmania  -  it has, in the past, been used by South Hobart FC to host interstate teams in national competitions, and this is a possibility in the future, too.

I am told that the local dog walking group has threatened to picket South Hobart home games if dogs are banned from being walked on the pitch.

If that is true, it smacks of arrogance and is a selfish threat.  It also sounds very much like bullying.

Given the number of people who are dog owners, it's probably not an idle threat.

Perhaps it’s time for South Hobart FC to harness the power and influence of its many sponsors and notable supporters, including politicians, members of the professions and business people, as well as the many parents whose kids belong to Morton’s Soccer School, and bring their reasonable views to the attention of the council.

Many of these people are probably dog owners, too, so they'll have to decide on which side of the fence they stand on this issue.

Public submissions to the Hobart City Council’s draft dog management strategy close on 25 January.

A South Hobart club submission is certain to be lodged, but there should also be a host of submissions lodged by individual supporters, sponsors, and clients of Morton’s Soccer School, as well as one from Football Federation Tasmania.

It’s time to bring in the heavy guns.


Danny Donohoe said...

Spot on Walter if it is banned on North Hobart how can it be justified allowing it on South Hobart?

Anonymous said...

Dog turds have been an issue at Clare St for a long time. Dogs have even urinated on kids clothing and owners are oblivious to what's happening as their too busy on their phones

Karl said...

Dogs are not allowed on kids play ground next to South Hobarrt soccer ground because health risk and play ground is not used us much us soccer ground. I am dog lover but I am discussed with some dog owners for not picking up dogs droppings.

Unknown said...

Your comments are untrue Walter. There is no plan no has there ever been, to picket the grounds.
I walk my dog on the South Hobart oval virtually every morning and I rarely see a dog poo. If I do I pick it up as do the other dog walkers. We also clean up the smashed bottles, cans, bandaids, food etc that are left lying around. We care for the oval. We want it to be safe for all the people who use it - soccer players, families (with and without dogs), teenagers etc.
The South Hobart oval is very different to North Hobart. It is embedded in a residential area and that needs to be considered. South Hobart already has dreadful traffic problems and putting more pressure on the area will result in an even worse situation.
Rather than using inflammatory and untrue arguments why not sit down to try to find a workable compromise? Remember we all pay rates and all have rights to public space. There are quite a number of solutions that would meet all needs.

Anonymous said...

"The South Hobart oval is very different to North Hobart. It is embedded in a residential area and that needs to be considered"...

There is absolutely no difference! Both grounds are surrounded by homes and businesses.

It's purely a situation where AFL Tasmania and the HCC would never allow dogs on their scared AFL ground at North Hobart.

South Hobart is the spiritual home of soccer in the south (now KGV has been turned into astro turf) but soccer is a poorer cousin and the surface is treated with disdain.

I live in South Hobart and there are plenty of other options including the nearby rivulet track that has off lead dog facilities and grassed area.

The big issue is that the ground is left unsecured after hours and this is where you get the smashed glass and graffiti issues.

Ex red said...

As a registered dog breeder I find it very hard to fathom that allowing dogs onto the playing surface acceptable. There is plenty of open space alternatives on offer, Wentworth Park below Wellesley,Cascade Gardens and the Linear Park at the Rivulet just to name a few. I have to confess that I’m not a Hobart rate payer but can imagine the reception I’d get if I walked my dog on North Hobart, the TCA or even over the river at Blundstone.

Kim said...

Very sympathetic to the plight of South Hobart. Imagine then paying significant hire fees for use of an HCC ground that has full public access. Dog poop, holes, other users who get away without hiring, metal detector gouges, car access, market stalls etc etc all contributing to the degradation of the ground. And then being refused access to the ground as it’s in poor condition. A community participation plan from HCC and a “5-year infrastructure plan” from FFT with no associated action is as useless as ..... well .... dog doodoo.

Anonymous said...

To the registered dog breeder, Thank you for confessing you are not a Hobart ratepayer. I am a long-term South Hobart resident and Hobart ratepayer and wonder what dogs you breed? Dogs need off-leash exercise and places to socialise. The section of Wellesley Park (off Wentworth Street) dog off-lead exercise area is very small and rabbit-infested. It also has children's play equipment, so if strict about the 10 metre exclusion zone rule this area becomes even smaller. Cascade Gardens has time restrictions for dog off-lead exercise. The off-lead section on the Rivulet Track is also small. Basically, South Hobart lacks dog off-lead exercise areas which is why sharing of sportsgrounds is vital.
I am wondering if North Hobart Oval should become available to dog off-lead exercise. Dog exercise areas are lacking in North Hobart which only has a small Soundy Park which has time restrictions.

Anonymous said...

Like you I am sympathetic to the plight of South Hobart. Wellesley Street residents pay rates/rent and taxes, and tolerate a lot of soccer traffic in this dead-end, narrow street.

As a South Hobart resident I'm happy sharing public parks with others in the community for their activities, including dog exercise and soccer. I visit Wellesley Park almost on a daily basis - it's my local park. Never have I seen market stalls (am I missing a shopping opportunity?), nor have I seen metal detector gouges. I don't mind people driving to the park to use the carpark. The dog poop problem is exaggerated. I rarely see dog droppings.

Local dog walkers care for both South Hobart Oval and Wellesley Park and pick up rubbish left by others, including the soccer people. Some South Hobart dog walkers have also given years of free volunteer labour to Bushcare at Wellesley Park. Bushcare volunteers may not pay hire fees, but imagine what labour costs they save the community.

Anonymous said...

Dear Walter

How do you suggest people choose sides?

I'm a South Hobart 'soccer mum' and dog owner who prefers not to take sides against my neighbours and community. I teach my children to see different sides, be understanding and avoid "them versus us" conflicts.

Walter, this article is highly divisive, and smacks of bullying by suggesting people have to take sides.

I really don't like to feel pressured to take sides. I just want my kids to enjoy sport, be happy and healthy, and involved in community life.

My kids love going to Wellesley Park and South Hobart Oval with the dog. Our family has met so many lovely South Hobart dog owners. We know dog bans would be detrimental to all these lovely people, and our own family and dog.

Compared to my own observations, the comments being made about dog droppings at Wellesley Park are incorrect or exaggerated. My children sometimes lie on the grass at South Hobart and Wellesley Park. This is not a worry as I've always checked and found the ovals clean.

Helen of SoHO (the abbreviated name for South Hobart)

Walter said...

Helen, just sit on the fence then. You don't have to support a side on the issue. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Jan 11
Mid sized boisterous breed, thanks for asking. Hence the reason I don’t reside in the Hobart area as with our breed the thought of restricting them to the suburban block isn’t advantageous for us. Acreage on the outskirts of town suits our purpose perfectly. Pretty difficult to obtain a kennel licience in a built up area, and so it should be. Also I’ve worked in the green open space and parkland environment for over thirty years and have witnessed the wear and tear caused by off lead areas to amenity turf. Of course regular maintenance and renovation helps where possible. Also the thought of 100% of people cleaning up after their dog is a fantasy, yep see it every day.

Anonymous said...

SoHo? Maybe real estate agents and poseurs.

Anonymous said...

At "registered breeder" Anonymous Jan 11
Why aren't you specific about the dogs you breed? What sort of answer is "mid-sized boisterous". Sounds like you don't know dog breeds with an answer like that. Registered breeders promote their breed.

There are many dog breeds suited to living in South Hobart. You don't live locally but many of properties have good-sized gardens, and some us have small companion breeds that are suitable for the suburbs.

Over-use by soccer training is what causes the wear and tear at Wellesley Park, not dogs. Wellesley Park was a mess after last winter.

Wellesley Park is looking great again thanks to the Council growing new turf, and locals (including dog walkers) obeying the signs and keeping off the oval, last October, to allow for regeneration.

You actually sound like you don't like dog owners with comments like "100% of people picking up is fantasy".

Is it pure fantasy that 100% of soccer traffic will comply with road rules? Wellesley Street and Braelands Court residents are sick of speeding soccer traffic and failure to give way.

Jacob south Hobart said...

OMG Walter you have really opened up a can of worms with this one ! Oh yeah and speaking of which I’m not sure I would like my kid playing on a ground after a dog has been worm treated and is conveniently emptied out on a soccer field ! It’s a bit hard to pick up sloppy poo isn’t it ! And before anybody mouths off I love my 2 retired greyhounds but I would rather travel a little to a more suitable open area or beach than let them shit and wee all over a kids sports ground ! And by the way as an owner of these beautiful dogs I can guarantee you that once they smell where a dog has relieved itself they will immediately want to mark the same spot , they would do this at least 15 times every walk !, There is no easy solution for this problem but when it comes down to it Peoples Health especially children is the MOST Important

Anonymous said...

To Jacob

Maybe you should walk your greyhounds locally in South Hobart and pay attention to members of your local community picking up after their dogs at Wellesley Park and South Hobart Oval.

Cows used to be grazed on South Hobart Recreation Ground (Oval) and locals used to still compete in sporting competitions. God help today's soccer players if they want a totally sanitised world. Vic