An out-of-town police officer walking her elderly parents' fox terrier in Flaxmere Park was forced to hold the dog above her head to keep it from being attacked after two large dogs knocked her to the ground.
Kath Napier had been visiting from Porirua, near Wellington at the time and was quite shaken, by the incident, family friend Ron Collinson said.
The attack happened about 9am on Saturday, after the unrestrained dogs, one a pit bull type and the other a mixed breed, caught sight of the leashed foxy, named Rover, and rushed towards the officer.
"She got knocked down, but fortunately the dogs' owners heard her screaming and came to kick them off," Mr Collinson said. "They were after the fox terrier but she held it above her head, they didn't get time to bite her or the dog."
The offending animals had been left to roam as their owners set up a tent and trestles, despite a strict dog-on-leash policy at the park.
"To have dogs running loose and the fact that they had to kick them into submission; these people should have been in charge of their dogs, to me the whole thing is just disgraceful."
Mr Collinson said a council worker who was nearby at the time of the attack seemed "disinterested" when asked if he could radio Animal Control.
Following the incident Ms Napier went back to her parents' home to ring the council, but later saw the dogs driving past on the back of a ute.
"Unfortunately my daughter didn't have her mobile on her and had to wait until she got home to make the call. By that time it was too late, the owners had removed them," her mother, Kathleen Napier, told Hawke's Bay Today.
"I believe [dog control officers] gave the owners, who were still in the park a warning, but the dogs were not found."
Mrs Napier, now 83, said she was always very aware of other dogs and kept Rover on a leash at all times when she took him out.
"I'm very cautious, if I see a dog roaming I head in the other direction ... you quite frequently see dogs off their lead in that park."
Hastings District Council community safety manager Philip Evans warned those who ignored off-lead areas may be eligible for a hefty fine.
"It is a requirement that all dogs are restrained while being exercised or walked through the park. Anyone found in breach of the council by-laws on dog control risks a fine of up to $3000," he said.
"If a member of the public sees any behaviour by dogs or their owner that causes any concern, they should contact the council as soon as possible. We don't recommend that members of the public confront dog owners directly, as this may inflame the situation."
A council attempt to reduce incidents involving dogs in public places had seen a drop in the number of attacks reported in the past three years.