"I hate to say it but we're running scared."
So says a Tathra resident fed up with what he claims is inaction by the council on dogs running loose around the district and irresponsible owners who let it happen.
The council asked for public assistance this week following reports of chickens and ducks being killed at multiple properties by two dogs roaming around Kalaru.
However, the issue goes beyond threats to livestock, with the Tathra man saying a large dog running loose leapt on to the back of his wife last Friday as she was dropping their children off at a Bega school.
"My wife has been attacked twice in a year," he said.
"The rangers were very professional and understanding, but they just gave the owner a warning.
"Council seems to think it's more my problem, not theirs."
The man said while his wife wasn't bitten, having a large dog running out of a yard and jumping on you unexpectedly, "scares the crap out of you - especially for a lady no larger than the dog".
"She's still shaken by it."
BVSC director of community, environment and planning Alice Howe said investigations were continuing following Friday's incident.
"Council has received nearly 70 dog attack reports this year. Each incident is investigated, and where appropriate, penalty infringements notices and/or dog control orders are issued," she said.
While Friday's incident was in Bega, the man said irresponsible dog ownership is "rife" in Tathra "and has been for many years".
"There's never a ranger presence in Tathra, and dog owners just scoff," he said.
"They ignore the signs because they know they won't get caught.
"It's much easier to book a person for being 10 minutes over their parking limit than it is to confront dog owners.
"This is a lovely area to live and to raise kids, but it's only a matter of time before it's a kid attacked.
"How would I feel if a kid ends up with attack marks on their face, or worse, and I didn't speak up more."
While not giving specifics on how many fines had been imposed this year, Dr Howe said rangers "take an educational approach with dog owners", ensuring they are aware of their responsibilities.
"Infringements are issued when this educational approach fails."
Anyone with an incident to report should call the council on 6499 2222.
Section 14 of the Companion Animals Act 1998 states that dogs are prohibited (whether leashed or not) within 10 metres of any children's playground or play equipment, and food preparation areas.
They are also prohibited at public recreation and swimming areas, unless otherwise signposted by local authorities (for example off-leash beaches or seasonal exceptions as notified by BVSC).
On its website, BVSC state that rangers regulate public places and issue penalty notices for offences under the Companion Animals Act 1998 which include:
- Dogs not under effective control (other than a designated dog off leash area) in a public place.
- Failure to immediately clean up dog faeces in a public place.
- Issue of a Dangerous, Menacing declaration or Nuisance dog order.
- Failure to register dog or cat with council.
"Although council prefers an educative role, it is recognised that compliance is essential in companion animal matters," reads the information on its dog walking "rules and regulations" page.
The NSW Companion Animals Act 1998 states that the owner of a dog in a public place not under effective control, such as on a leash, is guilty of an offence and subject to a maximum fine of $1100.