Bongil dogs must go
LYNNE Brokmann is devastated at the thought of having to get rid of her companion of 13 years, who she considers part of the family.
But Mrs Brokmann won't be the only one. Dog owners at the Bongil Bongil Estate in Repton have two months left to find their pets new homes ? at least 5km away so they won't find their way back, according to Bellingen Council acting general manager Simon Waterworth.
"They want us to get rid of our dog at Christmas," Mrs Brokmann said, adding her four kids would be devastated.
"Our Gemma is a 13-year-old toy poodle who would cause no harm to koalas. She lives inside, is desexed, has a vision impairment, has lost most of her teeth, is losing her hearing and has the symptoms of diabetes.
"Do you think it would be feasible to find a home for this dog? Would the new owners pay the vet bills?"
Dogs have always been banned at the estate because it is next to prime koala habitat, but Mrs Brokmann says it is ridiculous she won't be allowed to keep Gemma when the house next door, only metres away, has no dog restriction because it was established at the time of the development application.
But another resident, Ross Reynell, moved to the Bongil Bongil Estate mostly because dogs were banned, and he wants the restrictions to be enforced.
"Everyone who bought here knew the restrictions ? that no dogs be allowed," he said.
"There were quite a few of us who got rid of our dogs before moving here, because we thought the koala protection was important."
Mr Reynell says even small dogs should go because even their scent would drive away the koalas.
"Council should have stopped it right at the beginning," he said.
"We feel let down by council and their lack of action."
Helga Wellings also feels let down by council, but for different reasons.
At 76 years of age, Mrs Wellings lives on her own, since her husband passed away.
"I live all by myself and it would be good if I could have a small dog to keep me company. It would be an indoor dog and it wouldn't go outside, except for a walk on the lead.
"It would be for my own wellbeing, because I don't want to leave here, I'm healthy and I want to stay."
And while cats are allowed in the estate, Mrs Wellings feels cats do much more damage to wildlife.
"The main thing when the DA was considered is that dogs are a threat to koalas, and cats are not considered a threat," council GM Mr Waterworth said.
"We understand removing dogs can be distressing as they become part of the family.
"But in the end full council decided the restriction was on the properties when they were purchased, and decided that the dogs should be removed."