UNLEASHED dog owners’ anger has sparked a review of a tough new regime of fines for having the pets off their leads in Mosman Park.
“I think the change was adequately sold to residents, but the reality is there are people who say they didn’t get a warning,” Mayor Ron Norris said.
At the council meeting last Tuesday, about 20 dog owners voiced anger about a supposedly officious ranger allegedly jumping out of bushes before enforcing fines up to $600 for dogs off their leads in riverside parks near Tom Perrott Reserve and Minim Cove last month.
“This guy has all the people skills of a Nazi SS guard, and you should send him on a course,” dog walker Peter Robbins said, who was warned by the ranger during a daily walk of others’ dogs near the reserve.
Mr Robbins said an elderly woman was now “scared” to walk her dog in the town after she was fined $200 for not putting her dog on a lead on a path next to the reserve.
The town has 1800 registered dog owners who were led by resident Karen Markov who received three fines of $200 each near Minim Cove about 8am on August 16.
Resident Aaron Moore asked if individual $200 fines would be reduced to the $100 on the signs marking the contentious area where off- and on-lead areas were confused.
“If you make it an on-lead area it should be at weekends when bikes are flying through at ridiculous speeds,” dog walker Ronnie Goldberg said.
Mr Norris said while councillors now realised a five-month information campaign about the fines’ increased enforcement, including advertising and newsletters, had not worked, the danger of attacks on other dogs and people remained.
“To suggest it dropped out of nowhere is nonsense, as there was an attempt to tell everyone,” Mr Norris said.
He said 10 warnings were handed out by the ranger from February until June, 72 were given in June, and there had been 63 fines since then.
Councillors agreed to hold a town hall meeting for dog owners within several weeks, to review how the fines were applied and to check the consistency of warning signs in parks.
Fines of $200 are likely to be reduced to $100 if that penalty was shown by any sign, a community dog control education program will be developed, and the council will have to show residents why it justifies its restrictions on leads.