Dogs owners to be alert about greenbelt leash laws

Dogs are not allowed in the fenced area of the Parish Park.

Dog walkers will no longer be able to plead ignorance next time they let their pooch run unleashed on a nature trail or sidestep its still-steaming number two.

Earlier this year, Constantia councillor Liz Brunette called for a review to be done on precisely where dogs can run free.

Her request came after receiving numerous comments from people unhappy with many dogs being off-leash. Some had stopped going to the Alphen trail because of this.

Sub-council sought comment on this in March and drew more than 450 comments.

“In terms of the City’s animal by-law of 2010, dogs are not allowed to be off a leash in any of the parks and greenbelts unless they are designated as a free-running area. And dog owners must pick up poo,” said Ms Brunette.

But which parks and greenbelts would be “designated” free-running? That’s the question that Ms Brunette wanted answered and to do that she called for public participation.

This feedback touched on a range of issues, including the number of dogs each person should be allowed to walk and a shortage of bins. There were suggestions on licences, muzzles, sterilisation and more.

Ms Brunette – a regular user of the greenbelts – also canvassed users in the late afternoons for about an hour at a time. And the City’s biodiversity consultant Fay Howa submitted a greenbelt study on fauna, flora, water, riverbank instability, river corridors and the general health of the greenbelts.

The outcome of all this was included in the sub-council 20 agenda and discussed on Wednesday October 18.

* Dogs, while under the control of the person walking them, may run free at Bel Ombre Meadow (except in the nesting owl season and on the cycle trail), Boschenheuval Arboretum, Diep River trail (except between Bel Ombre Avenue and Southern Cross Drive which is a high use area for cyclists), Grootboskloof trail, Keysers River trail, Pagasvlei trail, Sillery trail, Silverhurst trail, Spaanschemat trail, and Wolwekloof trail.

* To avoid conflict with other users, including the vulnerable, and damage to the sensitive natural environment, dogs must be on a leash and under the control of the responsible person at: Alphen Common, Alphen trail, Constantia Cemetery, De Hel heritage and biodiversity site, Doordrift trail, Klaasenbosch trail, Liesbeek River trail and Upper Liesbeek River Garden, Maynardville Park, Wynberg Park and all community parks.

Ms Brunette said the next step was for the City’s parks department to post signage, something that had already been started at Parish Park, where dogs are not allowed in the fenced area to avoid conflict with other users, particularly children using the play equipment.

Once the signage was up, law enforcement officers would fine those whose dogs were off leashes or who did not pick up their animal’s faeces, as well as cyclists using non-cycle routes.

But Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association committee member George Louw wants to know who is going to police the decision of where to allow dogs on or off a leash.

“We already have a delinquent dog walker with up to 25 dogs at a time operating near Constantiaberg and nobody is taking action? Two Rottweilers under his control savaged a very valuable show horse on the Alphen greenbelt,” he said.

Constantia resident Nick Pickard, said if people stopped using the Alphen trail and walked their dogs off-leash elsewhere it would be a step backwards for security.

The Wynberg Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (WRRA) support the notion that some areas should be on-leash and others off-leash, giving residents choice. Those with small children or a fear of dogs could walk in on-leash areas while those with dogs might prefer off-leash areas.

WRRA chairperson Kristina Davidson said it made sense for all parks to be on-leash areas as people picnicked there and small children played there.

They wanted the Silverhurst and Sillery trails to be on-leash, as there was a busy road between them, cyclists were allowed there and the trails were shorter.
However, they felt the Alphen trail should be off-leash as it was very dog-friendly due to its size and because it was a bicycle-free area.

Friends of the Constantia Valley Greenbelts committee member Anne Mayne said it was impressive to see how Parkrun and other running groups kept the Alphen trail litter free.

“Unfortunately, the dog walkers are not so diligent about picking up dog poo. The Alphen trail is perfect for prams, little scooter bikes and wheelchairs because it is mostly wide and flat unlike the other trails where dogs are allowed off leads and where the are often hordes of fast cyclists who whizz by and could hit dogs and small children.

“It’s going to be difficult for mothers with prams to keep their dogs on leads and manage small children. It’s also a trail where puppies and young dogs used to run freely, socialise and play together, burning off energy,” said Ms Mayne.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden curator Philip Le Roux said dogs were banned from the garden in the late 90s, mostly because of attacks on wildlife and the faeces left behind.

“We currently allow dogs to enter at Rycroft gate and proceed from there going past the dam on the Cecilia side to the contour path. They must be on leashes but this is seldom adhered to,” he said.