KOALA COUNTRY: Cr Vanessa Ekins, left, Lorraine Vass at the site of the residential estate at West Goonellabah.
KOALA COUNTRY: Cr Vanessa Ekins, left, Lorraine Vass at the site of the residential estate at West Goonellabah.

Dogs to get free rein in koala habitat

By SAMANTHA TURNBULL

A DOG-FREE estate in koala habitat at Goonellabah will not go ahead after two Lismore City councillors said their pets 'got along fine' with the marsupials.

Crs John Chant and Barry Crimmins told last week's council meeting that their dogs co-existed peacefully with koalas, therefore the pets should be allowed on proposed residential land in West Goonellabah once it was developed.

The councillors were speaking in support of a motion by Cr John Hampton to scrap a recommendation to prohibit dogs in the area, between Southern Cross University and Invercauld Road, because of its koala population.

"What if little Johnny says 'dad, I want a puppy' and he says 'well sorry, son, we'd have to sell the house if you want a puppy'?" Cr Crimmins said.

"I don't think we should inter- fere in people's private lives."

Cr Vanessa Ekins said 'little Johnny' may not have been able to have a dog, but the trade-off would have been worth it.

"You can go anywhere in Australia and have a dog," she said.

"Unless we start making the right planning decisions now, in 10 years it won't be an issue because there will be no koalas."

Friends of the Koala president Lorraine Vass said Cr Chant's and Cr Crimmins' dogs must be one-in-a-million.

"Dogs are very territorial and if they saw a koala, of course they would respond to it as an intruder," she said.

"Ten per cent of all injured koalas we take in have been attacked by dogs. Autopsy after autopsy demonstrates their inter- nal organs have been crushed."



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