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Owner fined $220 for his seeing-eye dog being off-leash

FANCY FREE: Visually impaired Ipswich resident Kelvin Steinhardt is warning others to be aware of dog laws after he was fined for having his seeing-eye dog off-leash at the Ipswich Club.
FANCY FREE: Visually impaired Ipswich resident Kelvin Steinhardt is warning others to be aware of dog laws after he was fined for having his seeing-eye dog off-leash at the Ipswich Club. Rob Williams

WHEN his guide dog Mickey is not by his side, visually impaired Ipswich resident Kelvin Steinhardt can find himself in trouble.

In trouble with the law that is.

The 52-year-old father was recently fined $220 for leaving his furry companion unattended and unrestrained in the front yard of The Ipswich Club.

"I was helping my wife stack some chairs after an event had finished at the club," Mr Steinhardt said.

"During that time, Mickey wandered into the yard, which is unfenced, and was spotted by an officer from the pound."

A few weeks later an infringement notice appeared in Mr Steinhardt's mailbox for not having his animal under "effective control" in a public space.

Until then, Mr Steinhardt said he was unaware any laws had been violated and pleaded his case to the council.

In this particular instance both Mayor Paul Pisasale and Health and Community Safety Committee chairperson councillor Andrew Antoniolli asked for a review of the fine.

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The review is now in progress.

But Cr Antoniolli said it was important that all dog owners in Ipswich understood the laws regarding unrestrained pets.

Cr Antoniolli said the laws were designed to protect the community and ensured dogs did not create a nuisance or a danger to the public.

He said any unrestrained dog was a potential danger or alarm to people, traffic and other animals.

"That's why all dogs must be under their owner's control when in a public place," he said.

"'Effective control' includes walking a dog on a lead...this applies to service dogs and pets alike."

Cr Antoniolli said dog owners who exercised common sense and kept their pets confined to their homes or leashed in public had no reason for concern about falling foul of any laws.

He said the only off-leash exception was when dogs were within designated dog off-leash park areas.

Mr Steinhardt said he had learned a valuable lesson and hoped other dog owners learned from his experience.

Topics:  off-leash



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