Dog walkers have reported a series of angry confrontations with a local resident at Wendouree Dog Park – ending up with one pet owner finding the entrance barred.
Brendan Lalor arrived at the park with his two German shorthaired pointers Harley and Ruby just before 7am on Thursday [February 14] to discover chains and padlocks wrapped around the two main gates.
Unable to enter the park, he had to return home without exercising his dogs.
He believes one local resident, who he says previously abused him, put the locks in place to prevent his entry.
“It’s been an ongoing saga. It’s lasted for about three years,” he told The Courier. He said the resident seemed to have “taken exception” to his arrival at the park in the morning, leading to several previous confrontations.
“It all blew up yesterday [February 13] and he came over and suggested that I wasn’t allowed to be there,” Mr Lalor told The Courier. “His words were basically the next time I arrived before 7am, he would put me in hospital and put my dogs in the vet's.”
The following day he returned to discover the gates chained with padlocks.
I want to enjoy taking my dogs to the park but now I am fearful for their safetyBrendan Lalor, dog walker
The Council has confirmed there are no time restrictions on using the dog park, which is located on Dowling Street on the site of the old Wendouree swimming pool.
Other residents have also reported abuse. Fellow dog-walker Fiona Ludbrook said she had witnessed similar behaviour from the same individual regularly since the park opened three years ago.
"Lots of people have approached the Council. We've complained to each other quite regularly, but it's so difficult. People don't want to be harassed when they come up here."
Mr Lalor, 40, says the park has been an important part of his routine since he took on the rescue dogs.
“I try to get there every morning. They’re energetic dogs and they like to run around and socialise.”
“They might get a bit excited. I do try and be respectful of the fact there are people around, and if they do start barking I do try to keep them quiet. They’re not nuisance dogs."
He said he had spoken to the police, while other dog-walkers had been in touch with the Council.
“I have never been spoken to by anyone else on the street apart from this particular gentleman,” he said. “I want to enjoy taking my dogs to the park but now I am fearful for their safety.”