Owners rebel at €150 fines for letting dogs go free on beach
Dog walkers in Dublin's southside claim they are being "harassed" by dog wardens who are issuing hefty fines to dog owners who don't have their pets on a leash.
Liz Neligan from Monkstown is a member of the Dogs Unleashed group which is protesting against the Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown bye-laws 2009, which dictate that dog owners keep their dogs on a leash while walking on a beach.
Locals have been fined €150 while walking their dogs on Killiney beach as early as 7am.
Liz told the Herald: "It started in the middle of March when the council had wardens down on all of the beaches in Dun Laoghaire/Rath-down to tell owners that dogs had to be on a leash at all times on the beaches and all parks in the county, with a few exceptions.
"An 86-year-old man was on the beach on a blustery morning at 7am with his 15-year-old dog, who is a therapy dog, and the pair of them were shuffling up off the beach, when he was fined €150 for his dog being off the leash.
"But we're saying it's all about the dog being under control, not on a leash. The thing is, dog walkers are people who walk the beaches all year round, during summer or winter, snow or sun or rain."
Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council is proposing to introduce a dog management strategy as part of their Open Space Strategy 2011-2015.
A council spokesman said a number of off-leash areas were being considered and to date four areas have been introduced in public parks at Marlay, Cabinteely, Shanganagh and Deerpark. "A limited area has been designated 'off-leash' on Killiney Beach on a trial basis. If this 'off-leash' designation is successful and does not draw significant opposition or complaint from beach users, such designations could be extended and trialled in other beach locations."
But Liz said: "Killiney beach is now deserted because people have been harassed. I know people who've been fined, and it's a huge fine, and it's for enjoying nature and being out for a walk with your dog even though it's under control. If I tell my shih tzu to stay, she'll say.
"Dogs will be allowed to be unleashed in very small areas, with just a patch of green grass which will become like quagmires with increased usage in our type of weather."