No dogs on beaches?

The Kouga Municipality intends banning all dogs from our beaches under certain conditions and have called for public participation and comments.

This follows a ban that was successfully put into effect on several  Cape Town’s main beaches this festive season, including the popular  Clifton Fourth.  Camps Bay and Mnandi are also dog-free until the end of this summer season, about mid January.  It is believed other coastal municipalities are also considering or planning to follow in the footsteps of Cape Town Metro.

All Kouga residents and visitors are urged to make comments on this highly contentious issue before 12 January 2012. Dogs on Cape Town’s  beaches sparked much heated debate.

Kouga Municipality hopes to determine whether:

*  there should be an outright ban on dogs;

*  dogs should only be banned from some beaches like the popular Main Beach and Anne Avenue beach;

* dogs should only be banned during season on some beaches;

* if dogs should only be allowed on beaches if they are on leashes.

Failure to get sufficient comments from members of the public could lead to the outright banning of dogs on all Kouga’s beaches  or  banned under conditions not liked by many residents.

“A final decision about the banning of dogs from all or demarcated beaches will only be made once public comment has been received and considered,” the municipality announced in a notice put out before Christmas. “For many, dog-walking is an important part of their coastal experience as well as a form of social recreation. We would, therefore, like to encourage anyone with strong feelings about the matter to submit their comment to the Municipal Manager.”

The reason the Council is considering banning dogs from all or demarcated beaches is because of numerous complaints from beach-goers about aggressive dogs on the beach. There have also been attacks in the past or about owners not cleaning up after their dogs.

All objections must be submitted by January 12.  The objection has to be in writing addressed to the municipal manager and sent to 33 Da Gama Road, Jeffreys Bay.

According to Cape Town’s new city regulations heavy fines will be levied on dog-walkers using the three popular beaches – including free  running dogs and those on leashes.

Reasons given there include the fact that dogs can, at times, negatively impact on the experience of other beach-users, such as finding the beach  full of dog excrement, being attacked by dogs, or having one’s own dogs on leashes attacked by free roaming dogs.

A woman was attacked in Cape Town and had to undergo surgery. The owner of the dog was fined R1500 as he had contravened the rules of walking dogs on the beaches.

Metro police are conducting regular patrols on the beaches to monitor the city’s by-laws. Owners can be fined between R500 and R2000 for offences that include permitting a dog to be in a public street or public place without being on a leash and under control and permitting “any dog which is ferocious, vicious or dangerous to be in any public street or public place, unless humanely muzzled and held on a leash and under control”.

St Francis Chronicle asked various people to comment.  St Francis Bay vet, Dr Nerine Botha, believes during winter months dogs on leashes should be allowed on beaches. In high season she considers it may be acceptable for people to take their leashed dogs for walks on the beaches before 7 am and after 5 pm . She does not promote a total ban on dogs on beaches.

Animal lover, Diane Firth, would like to see all dogs on leashes.

Nigel Aitken, who was been unable to discuss the subject with the SFBRA (St Francis Bay residents’ Association) committee before this paper went to press, said it appeared the most preferable solution would be to limit dog walking areas to the beach area between Peter Road and the Kromme River mouth during holiday seasons (Christmas and Easter), leaving all other beaches as strictly bathing beaches. “In off-peak times, local residents tend to be responsible dog owners and few if any problems are experienced.”

On FB some people aired the views about this topic:

“Dogs have the right to beaches more than anyone! It’s their happy place. And no they do not cause half the problems the drunks do, or people defecating on the beach or littering. Some people use dogs for protection on early morning runs. It is unsafe on some beaches for women to go walking alone during nocturnal hours.”

“As long as owners keep them on leads. Not all dogs are friendly.”

“People should also learn to pick up after their dogs. It’s very off putting taking a walk along the beach and to constantly side step doggy landmines.”

In the UK and in the Channels Islands, like Guernsey, dogs are also banned from some beaches during high season.

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