Dog owner fined after his dog 'licked' a baby on an off-leash Melbourne beach

A Saturday trip to an off-leash dog beach at Port Melbourne has turned into an expensive outing for one dog owner who was left scratching his head over the rules.

Neil McMahon, who wrote about his experience for Fairfax, claims he was at an off-leash area with his seven-month-old English Staffordshire terrier Maudie, when his puppy licked a baby's chest which had been lying on a blanket.

McMahon said the mother then contacted police to allege the “dog has attacked my baby”.

Neil McMahon said his dog Maudie (left) licked a baby at an off-leash dog beach and he was fined for not maintaining
Neil McMahon said his dog Maudie (left) licked a baby at an off-leash dog beach and he was fined for not maintaining

He wrote that police arrived at the beach and questioned him and the child's mother.

McMahon was then fined $238 for failing to maintain "effective control" of his animal.

Under the section Dogs on Beaches the City of Port Phillip website states that it understands “dog owners need space to let their dogs run and play without a leash”.

"However, it is important to know that restrictions may apply."

On beaches dog owners are asked to keep pets on leash - except in the designated off leash areas, collect and dispose of droppings, and ensure dogs don't disturb other people, animals and wildlife.

The council website also states dogs are allowed in off-leash areas if they are under "effective control" by their owner.

The website states that "effective control" means dogs “return to its owner on command” and does not “bother, attack, worry or interfere” with others.

Mr McMahon said he was fined $238 for not maintaining
Mr McMahon said he was fined $238 for not maintaining

McMahon claims the child was not physically harmed by its interaction with his dog but said there is a lot of room for interpretation on the “bother, worry or interfere” clause in the rules.

While he admits the baby's mother was bothered by his dog's behaviour, he suggests the council’s wording may need to be revisited.


Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting