Soften park rules for dogs

A sign warns dog owners they will be fined.

A petition has been started calling for dogs to be allowed to go unleashed in a popular Plumstead park.

Lympleigh Park – bounded by Basil, Pluto, Medway and Lympleigh roads – has a running track, freshly painted children’s play equipment, lighting, gym equipment and well-established trees.

Lindsay Linklater, who started the Facebook petition, has been fined twice recently by City law enforcement for walking her dog off leash there.

Ms Linklater said she knew she was in the wrong, but she wants to see the park’s rules changed so dog walkers can have an hour, possibly in the early morning when the park is quiet, to let their dogs run free.

Medway Road resident Yvonne Forbes said dogs off leash could be a hazard. A friend of hers had had a knee replacement after a dog knocked her over. There had been complications and she had been left with heavy medical bills. And Ms Forbes said her own dog had been put down after being mauled in front of her gate by an off-leash dog.

Lynne Hakimi believes dog walkers are not making an unreasonable request.

“We’re cognisant that not all dog owners are responsible and that some in the community do not feel comfortable with dogs,” she said. “We’re asking to be allowed one hour a day of off-lead time. Anyone anti having dogs off lead can choose not to be at the park in that time. It’s not an unfair compromise.”

“Where are we supposed to exercise and socialise our dogs?” asked Gary Klugman, who is also in favour of the plan.

But City law enforcement’s Wayne Dyason said Lympleigh park users had complained about loose-running dogs in the area. And law enforcement was compelled to enforce the by-laws.

The dog-walking group say the one-hour off-leash period has worked at Strandfontein beach and Leadville in Sunningdale. Mr Klugman said a request has been made at Milton Beach in Sea Point for the same arrangement, and certain parts of the promenade were “dog happy”.

However, Ward 63 councillor Monty Oliver said the one-hour off-lead proposal struck him as “impractical”.

“How does one determine which hour of the day it should be? One hour of the day may be better suited for residents who work, while a different hour may be preferred by residents who are at home during the day.”

Mr Oliver said emails he’d received showed residents were divided on the issue.

“Those for dogs off leash feel law enforcement is overreacting and should spend their time dealing with anti-social issues while those on the other side of the coin insist – as per council policy – that dogs should be on leash at all times. These folk claim that children have been attacked and there is a general lack of responsibility in cleaning up the doggie poo.”

Ms Hakimi said dog walkers had suggested paying to fence off the north-west corner of the park for a pilot project where they could police each other.

Plumstead Civic Association chairman, Mark van Wyk, said building a fence would not work and would be a waste of money.

After meeting with residents on Sunday, however, Mr Oliver said that once he had received the dog-walkers’ petition, he would ask the City’s parks manager to quote those willing to help pay for a fence on how much it would cost.

“Of course everything is also dependent on parks’ agreement in this matter,” said Mr Oliver.