IT SEEMS you are either a dog person or you’re not.
The BDN has heard several complaints in recent weeks of dog owners not using leashes in public areas, or not cleaning up after their pet.
Tathra, in particular, seems to have its hackles raised over dog owner behaviour - with its beautiful beaches and public recreation areas right on the foreshore popular with people from all walks of life.
“We get relatively frequent complaints from the Tathra area of dogs off leads inappropriately,” Bega Valley Shire Council senior ranger Peter Miles said.
Mr Miles explained there were state regulations prohibiting all dogs from being in public areas without leads unless otherwise stated.
“In ordinary public areas all dogs in NSW have to be on leads - if there are no signs, the dog has to be on a lead,” he said.
He went on to say there are also designated “leash-free” areas as well as “dogs prohibited” areas – and that Tathra Beach has both.
On Tathra Beach the prohibited area stretches from the southern rocky headland at the Tathra Surf Life Saving Club to the small creek.
Mr Miles said the regulation is in place from December to April each year, 8am until 6pm each day.
However, even outside those times any dog within this area has to be on a leash.
The leash-free area on Tathra Beach runs from the northern end of the caravan park to where the walking track from the Tathra Country Club enters the beach.
Mr Miles said the seasonal schedule and signage can be potentially confusing, but that there are considerable penalties for ignoring them.
The owner of a dog off its lead in a public area can be fined $220, while a dog in a prohibited area can hurt its owner’s hip pocket to the tune of $330.
“Generally, if they are in a public area off a lead people can expect a fine,” Mr Miles said.
“Technically, if the dog is off lead and in a prohibited area the owner can get both those two fines.”
Mr Miles said the BVSC rangers conduct patrols when and where they think it’s worth doing and they act on complaints received.
He said those shifts can even include special patrols on weekends (not normally done outside of the summer peak period) particularly if they receive valid information on offenders from the public.
Cleanliness of dogs and their owners was also of some concern.
“Most of our beaches have some problem with that, which is a bit concerning,” Mr Miles said.
“I have to say it’s a small percentage of people doing the wrong thing, but dogs create a fair bit of polarisation, which is a bit sad.
“We are trying to find the balance.”
To that end, Mr Miles said the council is planning to review its companion animal policies later this year and will be inviting submissions from the public.