THE founder of Phoenix Animal Rescue Horsham is urging residents to be more aware of the responsibilities of pet management.
Carolyn Stow encouraged people to read the draft Domestic Animal Management Plan, which Horsham Rural City councillors have released for public comment.
At their October 28 meeting, councillors also agreed to amend the terms of reference to add PARH to its Domestic Animal Management Advisory Group.
The organisation will be given two spots on the advisory group, taking the total number of members to nine. Other members include two representatives of Horsham People for Animal Welfare and Support (PAWS), a registered vet, a Horsham councillor, the council's planning and economic development director and two community members.
Ms Stow set up the animal rescue organisation in October 2018, in response to the demand for animals needing rescue in the Wimmera.
"It means we have a voice in helping direct the management of domestic animals," she said. "(In Horsham) there are a lot of issues around breeding, unregistered animals and backyard breeders."
The draft Domestic Animal Management Plan suggests council improves data collection on the animal control services it provides. It also suggests the council's community safety unit look at the feasibility of a regional pound facility with neighbouring municipalities, among other actions.
The draft plan notes a high number of cats are being euthanised in the municipality, and determining how many of these are feral cats would help in this regard.
Data shows 80 per cent of the estimated dog population in Horsham Rural City is registered, compared to 50 per cent of cats.
Ms Stow said distinguishing between feral and domesticated cats was important.
"If we have data saying there are 'X' amount of cats out there not desexed, maybe we can develop a bit of a program to support cheaper desexing programs," she said.
"We want to try to reduce the number of dog attacks in Horsham, too. It's around education - how to respond to a dog out in the open without an owner is about being able to read the body language of the dog."
Cr Les Power is a member of the council's advisory group, which meets monthly.
"The fact we now have community safety officers - who are out and about our city in relation to dogs, cats and other animals - it's taken a fair amount of time to be able to settle a group of people in these positions, so congratulations to Mr (council chief executive Sunil) Bhalla and his staff," he said.
Cr Pam Clarke said it was "wonderful" PARH could be included in the advisory group.
Councillor John Robinson questioned whether a four-week exhibition period was enough. Director of development services Angela Murphy said the draft plan was legislated for at a state level.
Mayor Mark Radford asked Ms Murphy if the plan included wallabies, after one was found in Horsham's May Park the week before. Cr Power said there were wallabies in central Horsham about five times a fortnight.
A council spokesman said the community could provide feedback on the draft plan until 5pm on Wednesday, November 27, after which revisions would be considered before the final plan was submitted to the council for adoption.
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