Wollongong’s pet hate: canines and commuters

Phil Rath with two-year-old Murphy, a Kerry blue terrier, at the bus stop. Picture: ANDY ZAKELIA campaign to allow pet dogs on public transport has been given the thumbs down by more than two-thirds of voters in an online Mercury poll.Since Saturday, more than 225 people have voted on whether pet dogs should be allowed on public transport – including trains, buses, planes and taxis.The figures are stacking up against dog lovers, with 69 per cent of voters rejecting the idea. Just 31 per cent of voters agreed. Campaign to allow pet dogs on public transport Dogs NSW spokesman and veterinarian Dr Peter Higgins, who is proposing a review of restrictions on allowing animals on public transport, was not surprised by the poll results.”I think support for the idea is something that will build over time. I would have only expected about one-third to be in support,” he said.The results also reflect the number of Illawarra residents who own a dog, with Wollongong City Council estimating that about 37 per cent of households have at least one.But even dog owners have reservations about the idea.Figtree dog owner and dog obedience instructor Heather Kennedy knows dogs are allowed on trains in her homeland of England with few problems, but was not sure it would work here.”It would be incredibly difficult to police it and there are too many irresponsible dog owners out there to allow it to happen,” Ms Kennedy said.”How do you know who is a responsible dog owner? There are only a small percentage of dog owners who go to training.”Ms Kennedy said other members of the Illawarra Dog Training Club also had concerns about the idea.Dr Higgins said it was still early days and there were a lot of questions yet to be answered.”This has been running in London for at least 20 years,” he said.”There it’s up to the bus driver, the dog doesn’t get a seat and the owner pays an extra fare for the dog. This is a debate and we want to get thoughts out there.”

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