I was inspired to put my thoughts in writing by the well-written and thought-provoking response from Bruce Richardson in your June 17 issue [read ‘Query from Cape Town regarding Plett crime…’ on page 7 of that edition at www.cxpress.co.za].
As per Richardson’s response, there is much to be admired about Plett while, at the same time, there is much to be improved on.
Just after moving to Plett three years ago, I was peeved when I noted a message pinned up at the Sanctuary Beach platform, which in short was appealing to visitors to pick up after their dogs, i.e. don’t leave the dogs’ faeces on the beach.
I recall thinking at the time this message was misdirected, as the majority of dog walkers I came across were locals.
When the lockdown was implemented, effective midnight March 26, my thinking was that after a couple of weeks of no dog walking, the walkways would be a better place; then the lockdown was extended by a further two weeks and I thought it was a dead certainty.
After five weeks of lockdown the situation was better yet, if not exactly perfect.
And then we were given our freedom… and it’s right back to where we were, i.e. every pathway, walkway, verge, trail, open area, boardwalk, field, etc. is a veritable minefield. Do not attempt to walk after dark or before sunrise!
This past Sunday (June 22), I did an inventory on the brick walkway from the end of Beachy Head to the wooden walkway at Sanctuary: 33 piles of poop, and counting!
It seems to me there are three distinct types of dog-walkers - on-leash, free-roaming, and ‘professional’ walkers. On-leashers are clearly in close proximity to where the dog is, and thus much more aware of when the poop drops (so hopefully more inclined towards cleaning up).
Off-leash? Out of sight and out of mind (although not all, then definitely the majority) - I mean, how can you take responsibility for something you haven’t witnessed? The professional walkers, cell-phone earphones plugged tight, are often walking three or four dogs simultaneously (presumably for an employer), heads down and on the move.
I have on occasion encountered locals who, when they see me picking up after pooch, go so far as to say: “Why bother? It’s natural fertiliser!”
So, while we are quick to say it is the visitors who are largely responsible for fouling our little piece of paradise, shame on us, there are very few non-locals about at this time and we could quite literally play join-the-dots between piles of poop.
What an encouragement for visitors!
Let’s look to the future, as behaviour does not change overnight; clearly, Bitou Law Enforcement needs to take a heavy-handed approach and hand out spot fines. Or do we allow our apathy to get the better of us and stop caring at all?
Adrian Speight, Plett