Shelly Forsman with her two American Staffordshire terriers, Harry and Sid, wearing their muzzles. Picture Glenn Hampson
Shelly Forsman with her two American Staffordshire terriers, Harry and Sid, wearing their muzzles. Picture Glenn Hampson

Calls to muzzle all dogs at off-leash areas

A LABRADOR couple who muzzle their American Staffordshire terriers in public are calling for other dog owners to do the same to end attacks at the Gold Coast's off-leash dog parks and beaches.

Shell Forsman and Mark Scott say that by making it compulsory for every dog, regardless of size, to wear a muzzle while off the lead, attacks would be eradicated in public areas.

This year the Gold Coast City Council has investigated 632 reports of dog attacks, up from 545 reports in 2016. Not all reports were substantiated.

"We see the safety for everybody in it and realistically all dogs have the ability to bite, so this way you would have no problems," Ms Forsman said.

"If all dogs wore muzzles, all dogs would have freedom. No one would get hurt.

"When we see dogs that have been bitten or that bite, we think it's really sad.

"They have just as much right as anyone else to walk the beach."

The couple have kept their American staffies muzzled for the past three years and said while the dogs were boisterous rather than violent, it was simply responsible pet ownership to stop any potential problems from happening.

"I feel comfortable that they're not going to hurt another dog, so I can sit back and relax," Mr Scott said. "I think everyone should be doing it."

Mr Scott said he had written numerous emails to the Gold Coast City Council over the years asking it to consider the policy, but said he had not had a response.

"I reckon it should be law. It's a simple answer to the whole problem."

Southport Councillor Dawn Crichlow poured cold water on the proposal, telling the Bulletin it was "stupid" and "never going to happen".

A city spokeswoman said currently muzzles were only required for dogs deemed dangerous.

"Ultimately, dog behaviour rests with the owners and the city has no plans to introduce mandatory muzzling of dogs in off-leash areas," they said.

"All owners using off-leash areas must ensure their dog can be properly controlled at all times.''

Queensland RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said muzzles were acceptable provided they did not restrict a dog's movement, but did not believe they should be compulsory.



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