Dog ac­cess rules chang­ing

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By ELESHA ED­MONDS

CHANGES to dog ac­cess rules at Pt Che­va­lier Beach couldn’t come soon enough for an Auck­land mother and for­mer Short­land Street star re­cov­er­ing from a dog attack.

Kirstie O’Sul­li­van, who played nurse Robyn Stokes on the show, is re­cov­er­ing from a 13cm bite wound on her up­per thigh af­ter a dog at­tacked her at the beach on May 3.

The mother of two says she is thank­ful she was alone when the un­pro­voked attack oc­curred just af­ter 3pm.

‘‘I al­ways do that walk with my chil­dren and I’ve got a 3-year-old who runs ahead and finds trea­sures,’’ she says.

‘‘If that had hap­pened when my child was there, there is no way I could have saved her.’’

The dog at­tacked just days be­fore the Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board re­vealed a num­ber of pro­posed changes to ac­cess rules in the area.

The big­gest pro­posed change is the cur­rent time and sea­son rules for the coast­line be­tween Pt Che­va­lier and Water­view.

The board sug­gests dogs be pro­hib­ited on the beach be­tween 10am and 7pm in sum­mer and on a leash at other times.

Dur­ing win­ter, from April 1 to Labour Week­end, dogs will be al­lowed on the beach on a leash be­tween 10am and 4pm and at the other times will be al­lowed of­fleash.

Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board mem­ber Margi Wat­son says the changes are to make rules con­sis­tent along the coast­line.

‘‘What we’ve done is bring the parks that ad­join that beach and fore­shore in line with the same hours,’’ she says.

‘‘There’s not much point hav­ing your dog be­ing off-leash at 8.30am on the beach and then get to a park and they have to be on one.’’

Wat­son says the con­trols are in place to make the best use of the space and pro­tect peo­ple.

‘‘I know that his­tor­i­cally and even up un­til last week there are is­sues with Pt Che­va­lier Beach be­ing in­cred­i­bly popular and whether there is space for dogs,’’ she says.

‘‘What we would want to do is not dis­cour­age peo­ple to have dogs but have peo­ple do the right thing and that in­volves be­ing a good dog owner and hav­ing your dog un­der con­trol.’’

O’Sul­li­van says there needs to be more re­sources avail­able to en­force dog ac­cess rules and en­sure that those who break them are fined.

‘‘The rules are in place for a rea­son,’’ she says.

‘‘I would like to be able to go to that beach my­self and feel safe with my fam­ily but at this mo­ment I don’t.’’

Wat­son says the in­tent of the cur­rent by­law is to in­te­grate ar­eas for both dog and non-dog use.

‘‘If you man­age it prop­erly it shouldn’t need to be ex­clu­sive for dogs and so it is about work­ing to­gether to make it work,’’ she says.

Other pro­pos­als in­clude pro­hibit­ing dogs on the re­serve and fore­shore at Eric Ar­mishaw Re­serve to pro­tect wildlife, and mov­ing the on-leash area at Heron Park to the west side.

Dog owner Sarah King of Pt Che­va­lier says the pro­posed rules don’t recog­nise the value in of­fleash ex­er­cise all year round.

‘‘Dogs need to have a good run around to re­lease some en­ergy which re­quires more than just a walk with their owner,’’ she says.

‘‘They’ll be put into the backyard and yap end­lessly be­cause they are bored silly.’’

King says dog own­ers are al­ready limited in the ar­eas where they can walk their dogs and don’t need more re­stric­tions.

‘‘You’ll see peo­ple walk­ing their dogs off-leash some­times and that’s putting them­selves at risk of a big fine,’’ she says.

‘‘They are mak­ing rule break­ers out of oth­er­wise law abid­ing peo­ple.’’

West­mere res­i­dent An­gela Beer owns three dogs.

‘‘I think in­stead of chang­ing the rules we should be look­ing at hav­ing more ded­i­cated dog parks,’’ she says. ‘‘I just don’t think we have enough to keep up with the pop­u­la­tion.’’

Wat­son says the lo­cal board wants to hear the com­mu­nity’s feed­back on the changes.

The board will start gath­er­ing public feed­back on the pro­posed changes in June be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion on the changes in Au­gust.

Photo: ELESHA ED­MONDS

Dog own­ers An­gela Beer and Sarah King say the Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board’s pro­posed dog ac­cess rules don’t recog­nise the value in off-leash ex­er­cise all year round.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board mem­ber Margi Wat­son says the board wants feed­back on pro­posed changes to dog ac­cess rules.

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