Bendigo dog trainer concerned at off-leash animals at Lake Weeroona during blue-green algae warning period

A blue-green algae warning for a Bendigo dog park has prompted pet owners to let their animals off-leash in places the practice is prohibited.  

The City of Greater Bendigo last week detected high levels of the potentially toxic bacteria at Harcourt Park in Strathdale and warned dog owners against letting their pets come in contact with the water. 

But dog trainer Sahil Verma said people were now letting their pets run free at Lake Weeroona, a strictly on-leash site. Mr Verma uses Lake Weeroona to train rescue dogs for re-homing and raised concerns about dog owners’ behaviour after he confronted a man letting two rotweillers roam free. 

When he approached the dogs’ owner to tell him his pets were not allowed off-leash, Mr Verma was told there was no other option now the Harcourt Park water was off-limits.   

Mr Verma said people who did not restrain their animals at the lake were putting in danger other residents and their dogs. 

“One of the guys who was running past said the same thing: 'There's kids here, they're on their bikes and running around, and you're letting them off lead without having any control over them.’,” Mr Verma said.  

According to the trainer, unwelcome attention from unrestrained animals could be a trigger for the dogs he rehabilitated. 

“[Lake Weeroona’s] supposed to be a safe environment for dogs that are scared, anxious, trying to resocialise.”

The city confirmed Lake Weeroona was an on-leash park and said those caught flouting the rulebook could be given a $185 fine.  

City safe and health environments manager Caroline Grylls said Harcourt Park remained open to dogs and their owners but those that came in contact with water from the Crook Street should wash immeidately. 

“Pet owners are encouraged to continue to exercise and socialise their dogs at the park but be vigilant in preventing them from entering or drinking the water,” Ms Grylls said.

The city has erected warning signs and will monitor the algae levels at the park. 

There also exists several other off-leash sites dog owners can use during the algae warning.

These include:

  • Crusoe Heights Reserve, Morrison Street, Kangaroo Flat
  • Quarry Hill Recreation Reserve (area adjacent to creek), Houston Street, Quarry Hill
  • Ross Park Steane Street, Kennington
  • Muldoon Reserve Wattle Drive, Spring Gully
  • Garden Gully Reserve Bradshaw Street, Ironbark
  • Long Gully Creek Reserve Creeth Street, Long Gully
  • Scout Hall Reserve Simpsons Road, Eaglehawk
  • Truscott Reserve (area adjacent to soccer fields), Turner Street, California Gully
  • Jenny's Garden corner Chapel and Allingham streets, Kangaroo Flat
  • Linear Creek Reserve, Bay Street Golden Square
  • Linear Creek Reserve, Knight Street White Hills
  • Barton Court Reserve Barton Court, Flora Hill
  • Pasley Street Reserve Pasley Street, Huntly
  • Clydebank Court Reserve Clydebank Court, Strathfieldsaye
  • Hustlers Reef Reserve Hustlers Road, North Bendigo

The city confirmed last week two more off-leash dog parks, in California Gully and Kangaroo Flat, would likely be open before July.