With reference to the letter ‘Robberg Beach is big enough for all of us’ [turn to page 19 of the April 5 edition for the letter, and also the article regarding the beach-leash issue on page 5 of the April 12 edition at www.cxpress.co.za].
As a dog owner and lover myself, I fully understand those calling for a section of the beach at Plettenberg Bay to be made available to unleashed dogs. But there is something that must be confronted first: the small handful of delinquent dog owners who are creating the real problem.
A few months ago my wife was attacked and chased into the sea (literally) to save herself from being bitten by a pair of unleashed dogs. They came within a whisker of savaging her.
The attack so terrified her that it took her months to venture back onto the beach, and she now carries pepper spray and a Taser. A woman who witnessed the attack was reduced to tears by its viciousness.
This attack came just days after we saw another woman being bitten by an unleashed dog while running on the beach. Both my wife and I have on numerous previous occasions been chased and harassed by unleashed dogs.
We have subsequently learnt of a number of others who have been attacked, three of whom needed medical attention. Others have had their own dogs attacked and injured by unleashed dogs. We simply cannot pretend that such attacks are not a problem.
I am fully aware that it is a minority of dog owners who are responsible for these unfortunate incidents. However, until we can have an assurance that people are safe from this minority of unleashed and uncontrolled dogs, how does the municipality deal with the problem apart from insisting that all dogs are kept on leashes?
I wish there was another way, but I also don’t want to run the risk of another unprovoked attack on my wife or myself, or anyone else for that matter. And I certainly sympathise with the municipality, which may be held legally liable should someone be badly injured (or worse) on a beach on which it failed to enforce its by-laws.
The relevant Bitou by-law states very reasonably and sensibly that no person may allow a dog “to constitute a source of danger or injury to a person outside the premises on which such dog is kept”.
So, much as I’d like to see dogs (my own included) allowed unleashed use of at least a section of the beach - in exchange perhaps for more control of dogs on Lookout Beach, where there are many breeding birds - I know that our more urgent need is for a plan to control the minority of delinquent dog owners.
Derek Luyt, Plett