Sydneysiders are left stunned by exactly how much the government is forking out to keep seagulls away from diners at the luxury bar at the Opera House – as the VERY unique way they are scaring away the pests is revealed
- Dogs are being paid $200k a year to chase seagulls from the Opera House
- NSW government handed two-year deal to Mad Dogs And Englishmen trainers
- Pooches work four-hour shifts patrolling the precinct around Circular Quay
- Opposition arts spokesman Walter Secord slams the deal as ‘simply ludicrous’
- DMA readers were blown away by the contract, many offered their services
Sydneysiders have been blown away by how much the NSW government forks out annually to keep diners ‘safe’ from seagulls in and around the Opera House.
The state government revealed earlier on Saturday that a pair of dogs had been given a cushy job working at Sydney Harbour – with a wage of close to $200,000.
Sweet Hope and Peppa are among a group of pooches who rake in six figures a year shooing pesky seagulls away from people eating and drinking at the Opera House in Circular Quay.
The idea started off as a trial to keep the pests away but has turned into a lucrative two-year deal worth $376,380, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Dog training company, Mad Dogs And Englishmen train canines like Sweet Hope (pictured) to chase seagulls away from diners at the Sydney Opera House
The protected species seagulls (pictured) repeatedly annoy diners at the Sydney Opera House
A number of Daily Mail Australia readers couldn’t believe the incredible money on offer, weighing into the chat online.
‘I will lick the Opera House clean for $200,000 a year including the seagull poop,’ one joked.
Another stated ‘Geezus I would chase the gulls away for that’, in reference to the enticing money on offer to keep the pesky birds away from diners.
A third made light of the government contract, and offered their services for the role.
‘I’m human, but have decent speed and can yell pretty well. Are they hiring?,’ the reader said.
Dog training company, Mad Dogs And Englishmen, were first approached with the unusual request in 2018 and now have 13 canines on seagull patrol rotation.
‘They’d been having this problem ever since the Opera House was built and nothing has ever worked,’ Mad Dogs And Englishmen owner James Webb told the news outlet.
‘We give them a command and they run, jump up on the wall and bark at the seagulls and the seagulls fly away.’
Opposition arts spokesman Walt Secord has slammed the cost, arguing taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for ‘clam-eating’ opera-goers.
‘It is simply ludicrous that the state government is frittering away more than $376,000 on a dog and its handler to stroll up and down the Opera House lower concourse for a few hours a day to shoo away the occasional chip-stealing seagull for upscale private businesses,’ Mr Secord told the news outlet.
‘Why is the NSW taxpayer subsidising clam-eating, chardonnay-sipping, tuxedo-clad opera-goers?’
The Sydney Opera House told Daily Mail Australia the initiative was a ‘resounding success’ at steering the protected species away from diners in the precinct.
Trained dog handlers are used for dogs like Peppa (pictured) who are rostered on for four-hour shifts of seagull patrol – the two year contract funded by the NSW government pays a reported $376,380
The initiative has proven to be popular among diners and tourists and is a more successful venture than previous trialled mechanical hawks and food covers (pictured, a group of ladies enjoying an afternoon at Opera Bar at Circular Quay)
‘The results have been incredibly positive, with the seagulls keeping their distance when the dogs are present,’ it said.
‘This has significantly reduced the number of meal replacements and improved the experience and safety of our patrons.
‘The seagull patrol dogs are specially-trained and typically work daily, covering the busy lunchtime period and early evenings. They are accompanied by an experienced dog handler at all times.’
Currently, the costs are split evenly between the Opera House, Opera Bar and Opera Kitchen.
Each dog – a mixture of kelpies and border collies – can work a shift of up to four hours a day patrolling the precinct for seagulls.
Popular among diners and tourists the dogs are a more successful venture than previously trialled mechanical hawks and food covers.