Free-running dogs

Bosky Andrew, Constantia

I would like to bring to your attention the issue of free-running dogs on the greenbelts of Constantia.

Councillor Liz Brunette informed ratepayers in a newsletter on Sunday March 19 that she had tabled a motion in May 2016 (she is informing readers of her newsletter about this almost a year later) that dogs must be on leashes on the greenbelt trails, apart from designated areas. These designated areas do not include the Alphen Trail, the most popular one for dog walkers.

Any comments must be received by Friday March 31.The greenbelt is just about the only safe area in the peninsula where dogs are allowed to run freely. I have talked to people on the greenbelt and they have no idea that this is imminent and are all appalled at the suggestion.

We would like to know what other objections have been received and what issues have been raised.

Also, why were we informed of the chance to object almost a year after the matter was tabled?

Ms Brunette maintains she is acting in response to complaints from residents, who, together with dogs and children, have been attacked by dogs.

I think we should know who the complainants are as well the number, nature and time of the incidents they refer to.

Does Ms Brunette know how many hundreds, thousands, of dog owners are using these facilities with unleashed dogs? I do not believe a routine email to ask for comment is a fair reflection of dog walkers’ views.

There are so many council problems in need of attention and regulation. It is counter-productive and certainly unnecessarily controlling to interfere with the joy and delight that both free-running dogs and walkers experience daily in one of few natural parks and greenbelts in the Cape Town area.

May I request that the council does some research into the psychology and physiology of dogs and the tremendous importance of free (off leash) walks, before mindlessly subjecting these animals to unnecessary hardship for no credible reasons.

I believe the complaints are very minimal and a request to keep control of unruly dogs is sufficient.

Ward councillorLiz Brunette responds: In terms of the City’s by-laws, dogs must be on leashes at all times in all public spaces, unless otherwise indicated.

Signage at entrances to greenbelts and parks shows a dog on a leash, except at Bel Ombre Meadow during the months when owls are not hatching on the ground and dogs may run free.

About 95 percent of dog walkers incorrectly believe that they are legally allowed to let their dogs off leashes in greenbelts and parks.

The sub-council proposals identify greenbelts and other public spaces where dogs may walk off leashes.

Complaints received are about dogs running free and not under control of the person walking the dog/dogs. Some dogs have attacked other dogs on and off leashes, and people and children walking without a dog.

The City needs residents to cooperate and respect the by-laws. Law enforcement officers should not be required to police educated residents.

If people choose to use City open spaces, then they are responsible for complying with the by-laws and signage on the greenbelts, parks and open spaces.

My motion to Sub-council 20 was supported in May 2016. In January this year, the sub-council manager and I met City parks officials who are responsible for the public open spaces in Ward 62 to discuss the motion and the proposal for each of the 18 greenbelts, parks and open spaces in Ward 62.

On Thursday March 9, the sub-council sent the public participation notice to all community-based organisations in Sub-council 20 (Wards 58, 59, 62, 71, 72, 73) even though the greenbelts, parks and open spaces are in Ward 62, and I sent the notice to all residents on my database.

How to have your say: Email your comments to; fax to 021 794 7692; deliver by hand to Sub-council 20, Alphen Centre, Main Road, Constantia, for the attention of Stacy Kroukamp.

Wynberg Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association support the notion that some areas should be on-leash and others off-leash so that residents have a choice of an open space that suits them best. For instance, people with small children or a fear of dogs may prefer walks in on-leash areas while those with dogs may prefer off-leash areas.

The WRRA believes the Alphen trail should be off-leash as it is extremely dog-friendly due to its size and because it is a bicycle-free area. On the other hand, the Silverhurst and Sillery trails should rather be on-leash, as there is a busy road between them, cyclists are allowed there and the trails are shorter.

It makes sense to us that all parks should be on-leash areas as people picnic there and small children play there.