Owner Responsibility Gone Astray


The Wollongong City Council Dogs on Beaches and Parks Policy states that “the person in charge of any dog must be able to control their dog by voice command or other means”.  Picture: Kara Tuck 


A Coledale resident and her canine companions were terrorised by an uncontrolled dog near Sharkies beach last week. The rattled dog-walker is concerned for owner responsibility on off-leash dog beaches.

Carmel McDonald was walking along the seaside footpath, when a dog darted from Sharkies beach and bolted towards her. The dog proceeded to run circles around her, barking and snapping at her two dogs.

“There wasn’t any way that I could protect myself, or [my two dogs] Pippa and Charlie,” she said.

“I felt powerless and vulnerable, so I just stood still hoping that it wouldn’t bite me or latch onto my dogs.”

The harassment continued until the negligent owner walked up from the beach to retrieve her dog.

“The owner grabbed it by the collar and walked back to the beach, letting it run off again.”

“She didn’t even apologise to me,” Ms McDonald reflected.

Fortunately, Ms McDonald and her dogs walked away physically unscathed. However, the frightful experience has left a lasting impression on the Coledale resident.

“You should know your own dog, and if you can’t control it then you need to keep it on the lead,” she said.

“People need to take more responsibility for their dogs’ actions.”

Despite the trauma she has experienced, Ms McDonald is in favour of Sharkies beach remaining an off-leash dog beach.

“There is a small amount of people who don’t take consideration of other people with their dogs at the beach, but most people are responsible,” she said.

The Wollongong City Council has set out the obligations of dog owners in the Dogs On Beaches and Parks Policy.

It states that “the person in charge of any dog must be able to control their dog by voice command or other means”.

Residents such as the regular beach-walker, Karen Teale, believes that the off-leash dog beach policies need to be enforced.

“It is an off-leash dog beach, but with the condition of owners taking responsibility of their dog,” she said.

“I think the rangers should have a bigger presence on the beach.”

UOWTV Multimedia could not get in contact with the Wollongong City Council for a comment at the time of publish.

For more information on your obligation as a dog owner, visit the Wollongong City Council website. 


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