The issue of whether and where dogs can be allowed to walk off-leash has been a contentious one in the Overstrand for a long time.
In 2016, proposed amendments to the by-law on cats and dogs caused wide-spread reaction. The changes proposed that instead of being compulsory for dogs to be on a leash at all times, they be allowed off their leash, but under strict control of their owner after 18:00 in the evening and before 08:00 in the morning, except on specific swimming beaches, where they are not allowed at all. In the end, the proposed changes were never served before council, meaning that dogs always need to be on leashes.
Now, the municipality is set to start a public participation process at the end of January that will allow for the creation of new designated areas for dogs, or ‘dog zones’. This comes after mayor Dudley Coetzee, asked Nature’s Valley Conservation Trust to assist with a pilot study on the impact of dogs on various beaches.
The aim is to introduce three zones – red, orange and green – starting at beaches in Gansbaai (Pearly Beach), Grotto and Kleinmond (Main Beach).
The red zones will be where dogs are not allowed, the orange zones will be the areas where dogs must always be kept on leashes and in the green zones dogs can be let off leashes but must be kept under control.
The first round of discussions with stakeholders started in December 2019, and a public workshop will be held at the end of January to introduce the concept to the public.
Following the public participation process the final proposal will be open for public comment for a month before the proposal will be taken to council for consideration.
According to the municipality, zoning will be advantageous to people, dogs and shorebirds.
“With the new dog zones, the needs of our companion animals, wildlife and beach-goers are taken into account. We are striving to find a compromise that affords every type of beach-user space on the beach that they can enjoy,” the municipality said in a statement.
Until such time as council has taken a decision, dogs must always be kept on a leash in public places. Public spaces include any beach, road, path, bridge, footpath or garden, and any other place under the control of the municipality.
“Dog owners making use of Overstrand’s beaches that earned Blue Flag status – Grotto, Hawston, Castle Beach and Kleinmond – must respect the stipulation that no dogs will be allowed on these beaches whilst the Blue Flag is flying,” said the municipality.