Cranky residents have been protesting dogs off leash on beaches for years, according to Wollongong City Councillor Greg Petty.
‘‘I have always received complaints about dogs on beaches since the time I’ve been elected. Now since the exhibition period I’m receiving complaints from both sides,’’ he said.
Cr Petty's remarks came amid ongoing debate about Wollongong City Council’s controversial move to strip northern Illawarra dog owners of three off-leash beach areas.
Cr Petty said he was ‘‘doing his best to encourage both sides of the debate’’.
‘‘Opinions are very much divided and I have to take a listening role,’’ he said.
Andrew Peterson lived on McCauleys Beach for 20 years and found a significant increase in dogs using the beach in that time.
‘‘People now bring their dogs from as far as Campbelltown and Camden,’’ he said.
‘‘It wouldn’t worry locals so much until you have a 1000 dogs. They are being dogged to death.’’
Mr Peterson’s main concern was for the native bird population.
‘‘I’m not anti-dog, I’m pro-bird,’’ he said
‘‘The problem is even though they have restricted areas marked off for bird habitats, dogs get up there - dogs don’t understand lines on a map.’’
Dog owners have been seen flouting restrictions by letting dogs off leashes over Indigenous sacred sites and bird habitats.
Mr Peterson asserted that McCauley beach residents are unfairly afflicted by dogs.
‘‘I found the dogs are disturbing, I lived on the beach and I was putting up with a smelly dog bin full of poop just outside my front door,’’ he said.
‘‘People are paying a premium to live near the beach and you have to deal with dogs.’’
Mr Peterson was quick to say he was a dog lover.
‘‘I just place human and bird use of the beach as a higher priority,’’ he said.