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K9 Koala Dog Training a Barking Success

Released on: 10 November 2017

Released on: 10 November 2017

The first group of local dog owners and their beloved pooches that participated in a ‘dogs living with koalas’ training program were put through their paces at a final assessment at Town Beach Park this morning.

Dog attacks on koalas are one of three main causes for the ongoing decline in our local koala population, and the program aims to reduce these attacks through specialist training.

Renowned dog trainer Steve Austin, who has been engaged by Council to share his knowledge and teach locally based dog trainers was impressed with the group’s progress.

“I’ve been working with local dog trainers over the last 12 months to equip them with the skills and techniques to properly train dogs from attacking and harming koalas,” said Mr Austin.

“We’ve seen 19 dogs and their owners participating in the program so far, and the local trainers and participating families should be commended, with all dogs displaying excellent obedience in their final assessments today.”

The innovative pilot program is the first of its kind, focussing on encouraging a number of pet ownership behaviours including keeping dogs on leads while in public reserves, tying up dogs in yards at night and desensitising dogs from koalas.

“Domestic dog attacks represent half of all koala fatalities experienced across our region each year,” said Acting Director Dan Croft.

“Council take the protection of our local wildlife and koala population very seriously, and for the safety of local dogs, residents and our beloved koalas, we encourage the local community to ensure their pets are restrained at all times.

“A big thankyou to Steve, the local volunteers and families for participating in the pilot program which has set a great example for how our community can get involved to protect our local koala population,” Mr Croft said.

The K9 Koala Program is an initiative organised by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council in partnership with the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and the Port Macquarie-Hastings Kennel & Obedience Club.

For information on future koala dog training programs contact Councils Environmental Services Staff on 6581 8111 or to report a koala attack incident call the 24hr Port Macquarie Koala Hospital Rescue line on 02 6584 1522.