Council to muzzle dog attacks
DOG attacks have been increasing in the Ballina Shire in recent years, with council rangers investigating 113 complaints in the 2011/2012 reporting year.
Rangers investigated 96 dog attack complaints in 2010/11.
But the council is keen to address this situation and recently approved the trial of a new dog off-leash area at The Spit beach on the Richmond River in Ballina.
The Serpentine will also be trialled for 12 months as an on-leash dog area.
It is hoped that increasing the number of dog exercise areas will reduce the number of dog attacks.
Ms Watts said attacks usually happened in residential areas because dogs were defending their territories.
Attacks in off-leash areas are rare, with only one incident in the past 12 months.
The council's senior environmental health officer, Kerri Watts, confirmed the number of dog attacks had been rising for about five years.
"We are seeing the population of our shire grow, so I guess the number of complaints correlates to that," she said.
"A lot more people have companion animals now.
"Most people are responsible pet owners, but some aren't and they do spoil it for everyone else."
Ms Watts said The Spit was an ideal location for dogs to be allowed off their leashes because it was central to town and accessible to elderly people as well as families.
"It's a very hard place for our rangers to enforce the rules," she said.
"But I think if we do this right, it will be excellent.
"We are trying to have a really good mix of on-leash, off-leash and dog-free areas across the shire.
"We understand there are people who don't want to be around dogs at all, so there are beaches where those people can go.
"For example we are strict about Shaws Bay, Lake Ainsworth and Lighthouse and Shelly beaches, as well as the southern end of Seven Mile beach at Lennox Head."
Off-leash areas ensure that dogs are well-exercised, leading to reduced aggressive behaviour and reduced boredom of dogs.
Meanwhile, council rangers are also increasing foot patrols to ensure dogs are not roaming in public places.
People found to have uncontrolled dogs in a public place can be fined up to $220.
- Lismore: 17
- Ballina: 11
- Richmond Valley: 7
- Byron Bay: 9
- Kyogle: 6
- Tweed: 13
(Attacks reported to the NSW Division of Local Government from April-June 2012)