Sydney Opera House seagull patrols restaurant hit
Dog patrols to scare away seagulls swooping down on Sydney restaurant diners were successful, with the patrol winning a new contract.
Birds are a problem at Sydney Opera House restaurants, but have been on the run since the dog patrols began.
The Mad Dogs and Englishmen dog training company was engaged to maintain the patrols for over four years using 12 specially trained border collies and kelpies.
Dog owner and trainer James Webb said the dogs work the lower lobby seven days a week during peak hours.
“Financially it pays off because of the amount of money restaurants save,” Webb said.
“Dogs love it, and we’ve refined our training over the years until it is now.”
Webb was awarded an additional two-year contract to continue the patrols, for a total of $ 376,380 split between the Opera House, the Opera Bar and the Opera Kitchen.
Australian Opposition Arts Minister Walt Secord said the amount was “ridiculous”.
“My dog would do it for free.
“In these tough economic times, it is difficult for the government to come up with $ 400,000 to hunt seagulls. This is extravagant spending.”
A statement from the Opera House said dog patrols are free to taxpayers, instead costing $ 65,000 per year.
“It’s a nominal percentage of business revenue that dramatically improves our visitor experience, reduces refunds, food waste and staff costs,” the statement said.
And diners couldn’t be more sympathetic to the program.
“It’s unusual and unique and you see dogs doing all kinds of things, but I’ve never seen a dog trained to hunt seagulls. It’s fascinating and I think it’s awesome,” said one. guest.
Another guest told ABC: “The last time I was here my mom and I came to eat and we got attacked by birds and we had to leave because I couldn’t cope because it was really bad.
“So at least with the dogs here it’s better for everyone, so that they can actually enjoy their food.”
The dog training company was first approached by the Opera to conduct a test patrol in 2018, and it has proven to be a success.
“No one did it with trained dogs.
“We gave it a try for a day and found it was great to keep them out while we were there – when we go the seagulls come back in force,” said Webb.