AFTER his elderly dog was attacked while out on a walk, councillor Warren Aubin has decided it's time to put an end to the city's problem with off-leash animals.
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Cr Aubin was walking two of his dogs, both on leads, through West Bathurst recently when an unrestrained dog allegedly approached and attacked his 13-year-old staffordshire bull terrier-cross.
He posted about the incident on the Bathurst Our Town Facebook page and was inundated with responses from people sharing their own experiences of seeing dogs out and about unrestrained and witnessing attacks.
Enough is enough, he says, and he has now penned a notice of motion to the September 21 Bathurst Regional Council meeting seeking change.
In response to the issue, he is asking council to start a media campaign in both newspaper and radio to get the message out about restraining animals, repeating that message in the rate notice newsletter, and increasing signage around the city.
He wants signs to go up in pet shops, vet surgeries, along walking tracks and in parks.
He also wants "more rangers to be a visible force", which will need to be a budget item for the next financial year.
"We've got to find ways of making the public - or dog owners - aware that their dogs have to be restrained everywhere, not left unrestrained in unfenced yards and all the rest of it. They have to be restrained, on leash when out for a walk," Cr Aubin said.
"Dogs are animals and animals are like little kids, they're totally unpredictable and can just see a cat or something and take off on a whim.
"Even running across a road can cause havoc to traffic, but the worst thing of all is obviously an unrestrained dog attacking other dogs that are doing the right thing and being walked on leads."
He said dog owners often say, "He wouldn't hurt a fly", but in reality even the most calm dog has the potential to be spooked or aggravated.
"The law has to be adhered to here because there are too many dogs getting around off-leash and attacking dogs with their owners that are doing the right thing, and it's just not on," Cr Aubin said.
Official data from the Office of Local Government shows that five dog attacks were reported in Bathurst in the first six months of 2022, with six animals and one person attacked.
Cr Aubin said the numbers could be higher, though, as he suspects a lot of incidents aren't reported to council.
He is hopeful the other councillors will share his concerns and support his motion.
Importantly, he hopes community members will also heed the message to keep their dogs restrained to avoid these traumatic incidents.
"There are off-leash areas, there are dog parks where you can go where they are fully fenced, but if you're in any other area other than those, keep your dog on a leash or you will be caught and you will be fined," he said.
"And fair enough, because it's an unsafe practice."
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