Lessons for dog owner

Stephan Ohst, Parklands

As a regular jogger along the very same stretch of beach I only can confirm Dr Gregor Gawlowski’s observations that “Dogs are unruly, running all over the place” (“Tourist attacked by dog”, Tabletalk December 14).

I myself have had lots of uncomfortable encounters with dogs, which is unsettling and irritating. Unfortunately, it is only a minority which acts as responsible dog owners. The majority put their dogs first and expect you to tolerate their dogs behaviour – till a situation goes beyond the point of control, as happened in Dr Gawlowski’s case. It’s all good and well that one could report such dog owners – but will it help? We won’t get their names and by the time the police arrive they would have been gone long ago. Only patrols, at least every now and then, who actually enforce fines would spread the message. It always seemed a strange thought taking pepper spray with me while running at the beach – but after reading this article, not anymore.

Dave Thorpe, Rescue Rehab SA Table View

We hope that the dog walker has owned up by now, but if not, I would recommend as follows if the tourist will be here long enough. This also applies to anyone else who has been attacked by a dog or had their pets attacked by dogs. The tourist should lay a charge with SAPS against a person/s unknown in terms of the Animal Matters Amendment Act 42 of 1993 (as amended) for the attack.

In addition, a charge should be laid with law enforcement in terms of the animal control by-laws which are strict in the Cape Town Metro with regards to keeping dogs under control and where they must be walked on leash.

Many areas and beaches have become off-limits to dogs due to the owners who do not control their dogs and/or do not pick up their faeces. Unfortunately responsible owners and their pets suffer the consequences of the actions (or non-actions) of irresponsible dog owners.

It is important to note that in terms of the Animals Protection Act that the person in charge of the animals is legally regarded as the “owner”, in this case being the dog walker who could possibly be held personally liable even if he or she had been instructed to walk the dogs off leash.

Dependent on the amount, the Small Claims Court can be used to reclaim costs suffered as a result of such attacks. There are further consequences in that the tourist might not take home positive feedback and it is the local businesses losing potential income from future tourism, not the offenders, who suffer.