FRETTING dog owners protesting about the rumoured closure of the Maroochy North Shore off-leash area have been barking up the wrong tree.
Sunshine Coast councillors this week emphatically denied there were any plans to remove any off-leash dog parks.
Community Programs Portfolio councillor Jenny McKay described the closure claims as "inaccurate rumours and speculation".
Community concern had arisen, she said, because of a council audit of all dog exercise areas, both on and off-leash, including parks, beaches and other locations.
The audit would assess whether there were enough identified areas to cater for the dog population and if they were in the right locations.
Division 8 councillor Jason O'Pray said a petition circulating in the region concerning the Maroochy North Shore dog off-leash beach area was adding to the confusion about the intent of the audit.
More than 1000 people have signed the petition since it started last week.
"Dogs, and dog ownership and the rights of both dog and non-dog owners, is a very emotive issue," Cr O'Pray said.
"This region has more than 43,000 registered dogs. We are extremely conscious of the need to involve all community members in any decisions council may need to make in relation to this issue.
"I have been out and about on the beach myself handing out fact sheets to local residents to address the issue and alleviate their concerns.
"I would like to reassure residents that there are no plans in front of council to close down any dog off-leash area, including Maroochy North Shore."
The off-leash dog area is situated between beach accesses 132-136.
Buderim resident Natasza Baillie helped start the petition after hearing a rumour that the off-leash beach was a threat to migratory birds.
"Everything was just so unknown and with this review going on, people were very concerned," Mrs Baillie said.
"We will keep the petition going to make people aware that the council is looking at all the off-leash dog areas."