Dog owner to take le­gal ac­tion

Mu­nic­i­pal­ity does about turn in dog­drown­ing saga

Weekend Witness - - News -

eTHEK­WINI Mu­nic­i­pal­ity has de­nied that two life­guards tried to drown a pair of dogs on a city beach — and in­stead said the dogs’ owner had been fined.

But the dog’s owner late yes­ter­day hit back, say­ing he was go­ing to lay a crim­i­nal charge against one of the life­guards.

Yes­ter­day The Wit­ness Dur­ban edi­tion re­ported that a dog had to be res­cued from drown­ing early on Wed­nes­day morn­ing at Bat­tery Beach in Dur­ban af­ter a life­guard al­legedly dragged the dog, one of two on the beach, which were fas­tened to a sign board — into the wa­ter.

The claims led to wave of out­rage on so­cial me­dia, but city of­fi­cials said in a state­ment yes­ter­day they had con­cluded in­ves­ti­ga­tions into re­ports that the two an­i­mals, tied to a “No Swim­ming” sign, were dragged to­wards the sea.

The state­ment said the two life­guards had no­ticed the dogs when set­ting up the bathing bea­cons on the beach.

The life­guards had asked peo­ple on the beach whose dogs they were.

“They made sev­eral other at­tempts to as­cer­tain the owner of the dogs, in­clud­ing mak­ing an an­nounce­ment on the pub­lic an­nounce­ment sys­tem, how­ever no one came for­ward.”

The state­ment said the dogs were go­ing to be taken to the SPCA when an on­looker ac­cused the life­guards of be­ing abu­sive to­ward the an­i­mals.

The owner, who was bathing at the time, was then alerted and fined R300 for hav­ing dogs in a pro­hib­ited area and R250 for not hav­ing one on a leash.

“As per the mu­nic­i­pal by­laws, pets are not per­mit­ted to be on the seashore and there are signs in­di­cat­ing that. The mu­nic­i­pal­ity is sat­is­fied with the find­ings of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and there­fore will not be tak­ing any ac­tion against the life­guards con­cerned.”

But, East Coast Ra­dio’s web­site car­ried a state­ment late yes­ter­day from Gavin Gow, who said he was the dogs’ owner and an Umh­langa at­tor­ney.

He in­sisted ini­tial re­ports were cor­rect and that his 14­year­old dog had been saved by a French tourist.

“He was livid as were we all. I am lay­ing a crim­i­nal charge against the life­saver to­day,” he said.

“This in­ci­dent is shock­ing for the en­tire coun­try from the in­ter­na­tional tourism as­pect, right down to the ter­ri­ble pub­lic­ity for the eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity who em­ploy the life­savers,” he said. “Our beaches are our main at­trac­tion for tourists and lo­cals alike. I am there­fore re­port­ing this un­be­liev­ably cruel ac­count to all rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers.”

The city later re­leased an amended state­ment say­ing “… res­i­dents are en­cour­aged to come for­ward should they have ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion that is of rel­e­vance to the case and would be pre­pared to give ev­i­dence. The mu­nic­i­pal­ity would be will­ing to re­visit the case if nec­es­sary.”

— Wit­ness Reporter.

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