The debate on whether dogs should be allowed off their leashes in public places has been raging in our towns for many years.
It is such a heated debate that a proposed change in the bylaw, allowing dogs to walk without their leashes at certain times, was scrapped due to the huge number of comments received from the public. The volume of the comments was such that it took municipal officials several months before all the comments were collated, resulting in the amendments not serving before council.
But the news of a fawn being killed by dogs running free in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve has led to the municipality stepping up its enforcement of the bylaw. Tragically, the fawn had been nursed back to health after it was injured in the recent fires, and had only just been released back into the wild when it was killed.
Dog owners often argue that their dogs are well trained and would not harm other dogs or humans. But the reality is that there are reports almost daily of either humans or other dogs being threatened or even attacked by dogs not on a leash.
According to the bylaw, dogs are not allowed off their leashes in public areas and owners are personally liable for any damages caused by their animal. This is a huge risk to bear as no matter how well trained a dog is, it is always possible that it might attack either out of fear or to show dominance or due to instinct.
The time has come for the authorities to not only strictly enforce the bylaw, but also relook the current statutes and create designated areas where dogs can be let off their leashes. All over the world, towns and cities have dedicated dog parks that are enjoyed by dogs and their owners alike.
In the Overstrand we have the added benefit that even part of a beach can be used for this.