The number of dogs registered in Sutherland Shire has increased by 10 per cent in just two and a half years.
Sutherland Shire Council revealed the figures while approving a trial of an extra hour of use of the off-leash area at Greenhills beach for the rest of winter and offering a Taren Point baseball field for greyhounds to run free for three hours twice a week during a 12 months' trial.
A report by council staff said in November 2017 there were 50,748 dogs registered in the shire.
"In April 2020, there were 56,151 dogs including 273 registered greyhounds," the report said.
"This represents an increase of greater than 10 per cent in registered dogs in a period of two and a half years.
"The range of breeds is spread evenly across small, medium and large species.
"Dog ownership is distributed evenly throughout the shire with no significant concentrated districts of ownership.
"The trend towards higher density living is likely to create continued increases in demand for open space suitable for exercising dogs off-leash."
The report said an analysis of customer service requests over the last two years "shows consistent demand for greater access to dog off-leash facilities".
The council agreed to a staff recommendation to extend winter access to the Greenhills beach dog off-leash area by one daylight hour to between 3pm and 10am daily for a trial period ending on October 1. The previous starting time was 4pm.
It was also decided that, if greyhound owners formed an incorporated organisation and requested a breed specific dog off-leash area, a 12-month trial would be allowed at Apsley Baseball Field No 2, Taren Point on Sunday and Wednesday mornings from 7am to 10am.
The council will also seek to identify suitable extra dog off-leash areas to be incorporated in a Park Action Plan that is being prepared.
At present, the council provides six dog off-leash exercise areas:
- Helena Street, Kirrawee, on the M6 road reservation.
- Carina Bay Reserve, Como.
- Hordens Beach, Bundeena.
- Silver Beach, Kurnell.
- Greenhills beach.
- The Ridge Dog Off Leash Bush Park, Barden Ridge.
The report said there were many requests for an extension of operating hours for the Greenhills beach dog off-leash area.
The area, north of Gate 5, had been popular for the past 10 years, providing off-leash access along the beach between 4pm and 10am year round.
"The facility offers a free running area of approximately 120,000 square metres," the report said.
"In August 2013, council supported the trial of a 24-hour per day dog off-leash area.
"The trial was not a success due to the unprecedented number of dogs and visitors using the beach.
"The implementation of this trial resulted in an estimated 1000-1500 dogs on the beach between 7.30am and 4.30 pm on a single weekend.
"Following a further review, the trial was suspended and council adopted a resolution to maintain the current limited hours' arrangement.
"Since 2013 there have been repeated requests to extend the available hours that the Greenhills beach dog off-leash area operates, particularly in winter."