Call for dog ban to be extended

"Frustrated and powerless" . . . Protect our Wildlife group co-ordinators Daphne Wells (left) and Jill McInnes, both of Ocean View, at Brighton Beach after speaking at a Saddle Hill Community Board meeting. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

A group of Ocean View residents concerned about the safety of wildlife want dogs to be banned from their beach.

Protect our Wildlife group co-ordinator Jill McInnes, speaking at a Saddle Hill Community Board meeting last week, said its members were “feeling frustrated and powerless” because of “the negative behaviour of dog owners” on Ocean View Beach.

Under the Dunedin City Council’s latest dog control bylaw, dogs are banned from the southern end of Ocean View Beach at Big Rock to a point opposite 909 Brighton Rd at the north end of Brighton Domain.

Outside this area the bylaw allows dogs to be off the leash.

The group wants the dog ban area to be extended south as far as the car park at Ocean View Recreation Reserve.

The frustrations include signs put in place by the Dunedin City Council and Department of Conservation which give conflicting information on expectations placed on dog owners regarding the control of their pets.

Many dog owners exercised their pets off the leash on Ocean View Beach and had no control of them.

“They let their dogs run free and have no idea where they are.”

Protect our Wildlife co-ordinator Daphne Wells, also speaking at the meeting, said little blue penguins nested at the southern end of Ocean View Beach but council signage failed to make it clear dogs were prohibited from the area.

“Some dog owners don’t know or don’t seem to care – they seem to think dogs can run freely everywhere.”

Dogs also “frequently annoyed” seals and sea lions on Ocean View Beach.

“A beach is a home of wildlife, not dogs .. . If dogs are not allowed in a children’s playground, can you really trust them to run freely on a beach where wildlife live?”

If the bylaw could not be changed to ban dogs from the extended area, the next best thing would be a change to require dogs to be on a leash in the area.

Dog owners accessing the beach at Ocean View Recreation Reserve were walking down to a prohibited area.

More signage about controlling dogs was needed at the reserve.

“We need clear, consistent signage and dog owners being well educated.”

Some dog owners got aggressive when approached, she said.

Council group manager customer and regulatory services Adrian Blair, speaking at the meeting, said he would arrange for council compliance solutions manager Ros MacGill to meet the women at the beach to discuss the bylaw and signage.

The dog bylaw could be reviewed in the next two to three years, Mr Blair said.

Board chairman Scott Weatherall said he believed most people supported the current bylaw banning dogs from a section of Brighton Beach but he was unsure if the community would embrace the ban area being extended up to the reserve car park.