Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Clubs in uproar over dog laws

Children at 'risk' from uncontrolled dogs.

The council wants to give dog walkers an extra hour on the beaches. Photo / Paul Estcourt
The council wants to give dog walkers an extra hour on the beaches. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Surf lifesaving clubs are meeting urgently next week over moves to increase the time dogs are allowed on Auckland beaches during summer.

Clubs across Auckland's northern beaches are concerned Auckland Council proposals to allow dog owners greater access during summer evenings will increase the risk of children being attacked.

On the Hibiscus Coast, dogs are banned from beaches between 9am and 7pm in summer. On the North Shore, they are prohibited between 10am and 6.30pm.

Auckland Council is proposing dogs be allowed under control and off the leash before 10am and after 5pm each day from the Saturday of Labour weekend to March 1, on beaches between Campbells Bay and Waiwera.

This would give dog walkers an extra beach hour in the mornings and more time in the evenings, and be in line with the rest of the Auckland region.

If the new rules go ahead, it could affect activities of about 1200 kids at lifesaving clubs at Mairangi Bay, Red Beach and Orewa.

Red Beach Surf Club has about 350 junior members, who start training at 9am on Sundays. Committee member Craig Gledhill said allowing an extra hour for dogwalkers in the mornings could have a significant impact on practice schedules.

"My personal view is there will be an increased risk to the children running around, in and out of the water at training, and therefore it needs discussing and evaluating how significant the additional risk level is," Gledhill said. "An uncontrolled dog could pose an additional risk to the children and coaches and therefore an exemption to this bylaw on a confined beach like Red Beach on training days should be looked at."

A spokeswoman for Orewa Surf Club said it got a letter from the council on Friday outlining the new rules, and the club would examine the proposals next week.

"The beaches belong to everyone and we all have to get along," the spokeswoman said. "Fortunately, we have a very large beach at Orewa and we don't start junior training until 10am but it is something we will certainly be looking at."

Mairangi Bay Junior Life Saving club this week contacted parents of its 400 junior members to say the club would meet to discuss a submission against the move.

The junior club's deputy director Tony Sands said youngsters started setting up for training at 8.30am on Sundays and ideally they would like dogs to be off Mairangi Bay beach before then.

An Auckland Council spokesman said the proposal was aimed at "maintaining the opportunities for dog owners to take their dogs into public places, while adopting measures to minimise the problems caused by dogs".

Submissions close 4pm on September 16.

- Herald on Sunday

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