Dog attacks in Wollongong have soared a staggering 48 per cent in just 12 months with nearly 50 people and more than 200 animals harmed.
The latest statistics from the NSW Division of Local Government show there were 237 dog attacks in Wollongong from April 2013 to March this year, compared with 160 in the same period a year earlier.
The Wollongong local government area ranks fourth in the state for the number of dog attacks reported, behind Blacktown, Gosford and Newcastle, and also has a higher than average attack rate.
The statewide attack rate was one attack for every 1350 dogs.
By contrast, Wollongong’s rate was one attack for every 735 dogs.
Wollongong City Council blamed the media and an ‘‘increase in reporting’’ for the huge rise in dog attacks in a year.
‘‘There appears to be an increase in reporting attacks or incidents by the public when incidents occur,’’ a spokesman said.
‘‘Council believes that the increase is also due to the attention to attacks given by the media in recent times.’’
He said the council treated attacks with ‘‘the highest priority’’, taking actions such as issuing fines, negotiating with owner to have dogs euthanased in the interests of public safety, seizing dogs, and issuing ‘‘Dangerous Dog’’ or ‘‘Menacing Dog’’ declarations which impose higher responsibilities on dog owners.
In the year to March, 21 people in Wollongong were injured in ‘‘serious’’ attacks (where injuries from the attack needed medical treatment or hospitalisation) and 25 people were involved in less serious cases.
In Warrawong in April last year, a 45-year-old woman received bites to her face and hands and was taken by paramedics to Wollongong Hospital.
Other victims included a 21-year-old Bellambi man who received bites to his arms and legs in September, a 51-year-old Warrawong woman who received lacerations to her hand and leg in October and a 48-year-old Bellambi woman who was bitten on her neck and toe in November.
Wollongong attacks on children included a Koonawarra 15-year-old who was hospitalised with a severe foot injury in August, a Unanderra 16-year-old bitten on the shin on New Year’s Day and a two-year-old Berkeley boy who was taken to Wollongong Hospital with a 20-centimetre laceration to his head.
Humans weren’t the only victims, with 214 animals attacked by dogs in Wollongong.
In Shellharbour, there were 28 dog attacks in total during the 12-month period, while in Kiama there were just 15.
In the three months to March, the top three attacking dog breeds across NSW were Staffordshire bull terriers (158 attacks), Australian cattle dogs (100 attacks) and American Staffordshire terriers (82 attacks).