Roaming dogs confront kids

BYRON Shire dog owners have been warned against letting their pets roam free after reports children have been confronted by dogs on their way to school.

The reports have forced Byron Shire Council senior ranger Gerry Burnage to make a public statement emphasising the need for dogs to be kept in check.

“It’s a frightening experience when a child is confronted by a dog on the way to school,” he said.

“Walking and cycling to school is a great form of exercise, but it can be life changing if a child is attacked by a dog.”

Ranger Burnage said it was important dog owners thought about the wider community.

“Responsible pet ownership means keeping your dog in a secure yard and ensuring your dog is friendly and comfortable with people,” he said.

“All dogs in public spaces, such as local streets, must be under the control of a competent person and on a leash.”

Under council by-laws, dogs are prohibited in children’s play areas, food preparation areas, school grounds, child care centres and wildlife protection areas.

Owners who walk their dogs to the shops must have their pet on a lead.

Dog owners risk hefty penalties of $220 if their dog is found in apublic space without a lead, $330 if the dog is in a prohibited space, and $550 if their dog attacks another person.

Ranger Burnage said there were a number of things a child or adult could do when approached by an unrestrained or unknown dog.

“Avoid eye contact with the dog. Never pat the dog. Don’t run away or scream, but stand completely still, and don’t kick at the dog, squeal or jump,” he said.

The Byron Shire Council also conducts regular visits to primary schools as part of its companion animal education program to help children relate well with pets.

What to do

Avoid eye contact with the dog. Don’t try to make contact with the dog.

Stand completely still.

Keep your hands firmly by your side and don’t wave them around.

Instead, slowly back away and when the dog wanders off, quietly walk away.

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