Bitou bye-law regarding dogs on beaches
Rarely has an issue raised as much emotion as the question of dogs on beaches and indeed in Public areas without a lead. The fines currently being levied by Municipal law enforcement officers has added to the indignity, annoyance and frustration felt by many dog owners in Plettenberg Bay. Petitions are being raised, protest meetings planned and the social and local media is inundated with complaints as well as expressions of support by those who oppose dogs on beaches in the first place.
Whether we like it or not the law bans dogs off leads from all public places in the greater Bitou area and no dogs on Blue flag beaches in particular.
The fact that the law has not been enforced until recently does not change the fact that the bye-law has been in place since 2009.
There are many dog owners who completely disregard any rules of etiquette when it comes to their own dogs, allowing them to run wild chasing birds on Lookout beach as well as Poortjies and have chased the Flamingos away from the area near the mouth of the estuary. These same people do not care to pick up their dogs’ mess on the other beaches and the boardwalk. They and they alone are responsible for the law now being enforced!
I am a dog owner and walk every day and have witnessed many instances of bad behaviour on the part of dog owners as well as the majority who are responsible and clean up meticulously after their dogs and prevent them from chasing birds et al.
So what do we do?
Your Association has been directly involved with this issue and instigated the first meeting with the Municipal officials regarding complaints about dogs on Look out and Robberg beaches in particular and were party to the decision to implement the bye –law. This is in an effort to reduce the bad behaviour of a few irresponsible dog owners. The result is that we have all had to suffer from this situation, having myself been fined under questionable circumstances. Subsequently we have had a meeting with all the interested and affected parties and a possible way forward has been agreed in principle but subject to professional input from Dr Mark Brown of Natures Valley Trust and his team. The request that certain prescribed areas be set aside for dogs to run free of leashes is under consideration and the final decision and the areas that may be set aside will be communicated to the community as a whole within the next month.
An amendment to the bye-law will be required and this is being looked at concurrently with other activities to reduce time before a final communication to all residents in Bitou. In the interim all the petitions, social media and illegal gatherings will have little affect in resolving this issue and the way forward is well laid out and carefully considered with the best interests of all stakeholders in mind.
We have agreed not to go into all the details until the Bitou Municipality and others have completed their work and issued a public statement but we wanted our members to be aware of some of the facts earlier rather than later.