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