Erika Grimes knows too well the damage an irresponsible dog owner and off-leash dog can unleash.
Last July, her depression support animal, Georgie, was mauled by an off-leash dog, whose owner then left the scene. They left the Cocker Spaniel and Ms Grimes bloodied and unable to call for help.
Georgie is now almost fully recovered and managed to avoid leg amputation, but she and Ms Grimes are still reeling from the attack.
“It caused a lot of trauma,” Ms Grimes said.
“We went from being very happy to suddenly being very aware.
“It’s made me much more cautious, when we’re walking down the street I’m looking around constantly.
“It’s probably affected me more than her really, dogs are very resilient.”
Dog attacks in Albury increased last year with 39 reported to the office of local government, compared to 33 in 2016.
Albury Council is launching an educational campaign ‘What’s the Harm?’ encouraging owners to rethink irresponsible behaviour.
Councillor Henk van de Ven said people should report any bad dog behaviour to council.
“It’s enormously distressing when dogs harm people or other animals but we can all work together to reduce the harm by following the rules, reporting bad behaviour to council and caring for our pets in a responsible way,” he said.
The campaign calls on owners to ensure their dog is on a lead and responds to commands; ensure dogs cannot escape from enclosures; address fence running, roaming, and aggression behaviours; learn to detect early signs of aggression; and supervise children and dogs.
Ms Grimes said she and Georgie were still adjusting to life after the attack.
“It’s very scary,” she said.
“People need to be aware it happens in an instant.
“Even when a dog is on a lead, sometimes people don’t react quick enough.”