Opera House invests nearly $400K in patrol dogs to stop seagulls from stealing chips

The Sydney Opera House has invested almost $400,000 to keep seagulls from harassing diners at its F&B outlets using “seagull patrol” dogs.

Those who have hosted events or gatherings at the Opera House, Opera Bar or Opera Kitchen may have seen the helpful hounds do their rounds outside the venues, keeping the pesky birds from stealing food from unsuspecting customers.

The iconic venue has extended the contract of dog training company Mad Dogs and Englishmen which handle the patrols for a further two years on a contract worth $376,380.

Opposition Minister for Arts Walt Secord told ABC News the contract was “ludicrous”.

“My dog would do it for free,” Secord said.

“In these tough economic times, it’s tough for the government to get behind $400,000 to shoo away seagulls. It’s about the extravagant expenditure.”

James Webb, the owner of Mad Dogs and Englishmen, told ABC News the service pays for itself because of the amount of money the restaurants save.

“The dogs love it, and we’ve refined our training over the years to where it is now,” Webb said.

The Opera House itself said in a statement to the national news outlet that the service is at no cost to taxpayers.

“It’s a nominal percentage of commercial revenue that greatly improves the experience of our visitors, reduces refunds, food wastage, and staffing costs,” the statement said.

Featured image: Jacquie Manning via