LETTERS: DOGS ON THE BEACH – for and against

dog on beachThe following letters regarding dogs on the beach were sent to LymeOnline during January and February 2019 following an incident in which a child was bitten on the sandy beach.

WALKING most days along the Cobb and into the town itself, avoiding dogs mess is an everyday thing.

As for the sand beach and the dogs running loose far away from there owners , it’s a bad accident waiting to happen.

Last week I counted 11 dogs running loose on the beach with children playing and dogs peeing and pooing. Not good, I wouldn’t let my granddaughter near such a dangerous place.

Dogs should go on Monmouth Beach but one thing you can be sure of is that nothing will be done.

Jon Clements,
Lyme Regis

I WAS pleased to read the contributions from your letter writers in your last edition, providing some balance to the dogs on beach debate.

I had been alarmed by the lack of tolerance from previous contributors, demanding a total dog ban on our beaches.

This debate emanated from a person being bitten by a dog in an isolated incident. This was followed by succession of people leaping onto the bandwagon, making ignorant and unpleasant remarks about dogs and their owners.

If a dog owner breaks the law, by failing to exercise control over their pet, in relation to biting or fouling, it is that person who should rightly be brought to book. To target and persecute an entire community, in this case dog owners, for the transgression of an individual is totally disproportionate and unacceptable in a liberal democracy.

A fair compromise would be, for instance, to insist on dogs being kept on a lead on the front beach during the daytime.

Personally, I am more affronted by humans annexing and cordoning off 20 per cent of the sandy beach for themselves on a sunny summer day, or hurling stones into the water from the pebble beach, within inches of other citizens.

Andrew Kingston
Lyme Regis

IT’S funny, isn’t it, how some people just react when something happens, they see, they hear, etc, without actually stopping to weigh up the whole picture?

I came to Lyme three years ago and since arriving have purchased a dog. I knew from the start that I had responsibilities for that dog, just like a parent should have for a child.

I have to say, I have been pretty appalled by the amount of dog poo that is seen on the beach and surrounding streets of the town. I have been equally appalled by the amount of litter I see both adults and children just leave on the beach, not to mention beer cans and bottles.

I don’t think it is very helpful at all when I read that a local councillor has made such reactionary comments. It doesn’t help and it is certainly not professional. One would hope that someone in that position would be able to put a little more perspective on the situation.

Personally, I am all about what is fair for everyone and to suggest a total ban for dogs on beaches is definitely not fair. There are enough beaches in Lyme for everyone. The sandy beach/main beach is possibly a consideration for a dog-free zone or dogs on leads zone. That way, families could be seen to have the security of knowing that their children, families, friends, etc, could roam free, swim, wander without the worry of running into a dog.

And if a dog should poo and the owner not pick up, they should be approached and if necessary reported. It would help if the council supplied a few dog bags at strategic points, like the ones that were supplied in Monmouth Street in the summer. I sincerely hope this will happen again, as there was a noticeable difference in the park area.

This should be about putting in place avoidance strategies, before a problem arises, and when it does arise, it should be acted on immediately to prevent a reoccurrence. If fines need to be imposed on irresponsible people, then so be it. They won’t do it twice.

The vast majority of dog owners in Lyme are, in my opinion, very responsible. We should not be punishing everyone for one incident. That incident and its owner need to be approached and the situation discussed, with appropriate actions taken. I would say the same about any situation or occurrence that is not deemed acceptable to the majority.

Communication is the answer to everything and I say that as someone who has been in a position of authority, managing both adults and children. There must be rules and discipline, but above all there must be respect. A respect for people, our environment and our beloved animals.

Those things come in time and from the way you ‘communicate’ with people. As I said in the beginning, there has to be a sense of fairness for everyone.

Susan Walker
(by email)

I refer to LymeOnline letters (February 1) concerning dogs on the beach. Yes, dogs are everywhere in Lyme, and very therapeutic it is to see them having a great time on the beach.

They get their owners out rain or shine socialising, eating, drinking, supporting local business and, at the same time, greatly improving their own general heath and well-being and taking the strain off the NHS.

“Ban dogs in their entirety from both the beach and adjacent roads” – yes, let’s send all those dirty dog-owning tourists with their fat wallets somewhere else and make local dog owners get into their cars and drive to a more welcoming town. Maybe they would keep on driving. I know we would.

“It’s high time there was a total ban on all dogs being allowed on any beach in Lyme including the church grounds” – yes, let’s turn Lyme Regis into a sleepy backwater, a place for a few select people to enjoy the quiet beaches and empty cafes. The kids and gulls might be screaming, and probably many local business owners, but not a single woof will be heard.

But seriously, like it or lump it, dogs are the new black and owners like to be out with them. Most local businesses recognise and accommodate this as it makes sound business sense.

The majority of dog owners are responsible people who just want their dogs to enjoy the beach every day, so why not keep the present restrictions in place but make the sandy main beach (only) dog free all year round from 10am to 6pm?

Anna Price
(by email)

I have been living in Lyme Regis for two years and am a dog owner and lover.

Personally, I would prefer to see dogs running around enjoying themselves than a bunch of screaming kids. But I can’t see banning kids from the dog beach going anywhere!

However, banning dogs on all beaches is going too far, so I feel there needs to be somewhere for both people with kids and people with dogs to enjoy their time in Lyme.

I propose dogs be banned from the main beach and allowed on all other beaches all year round.

Lyme Regis relies on tourism and being dog friendly makes it a much more welcoming and attractive place to visit and to live.

David Morton
(by email)

WE are new (seven weeks) residents of Lyme Regis and the sheer number of dogs and their ‘consequences’ is quite off-putting.

As we get more familiar with the local walks along the beach and footpaths, it is clear early on that enforceable rules are needed for dogs and their owners that use Lyme Regis for their pleasure.

Moreover, a council audit is needed in terms of dogs on the beaches and walkways, public hygiene and overall safety of all people wanting to use the beaches and walkways throughout the year.

Name and address supplied

The Doggy Dilemma, a poem:
There are lots of beaches in lovely Lyme,
For dogs to romp and play on,
Charmouth, Monmouth and Church beach are all quite devine.
So, why can we not have just one beach,
With its soft French golden sand
For the children to romp and play on,
And lovers to stroll hand in hand?

C. L. Anderson
Silver Street, Lyme Regis

I AM a regular visitor in Lyme Regis, and I’m also a big fan of dogs! However, I was taken by surprise to see the uncontrolled behaviour of dogs on the local sandy beach in Lyme.

The owners obviously didn’t really care what their dogs were doing, and clearly nobody paid attention to the sign reading ‘All dogs must be kept on leads’.

As regular swimmers we didn’t feel comfortable leaving our belongings on the beach with dogs running around urinating and making a mess.

I know there are two other beaches in Lyme that are much better suited for dogs to run free (which they should, of course!), so I don’t know why the owners always choose the main beach which is more suited for families, children and swimmers.

I love dogs and think they should run free, but in a better suited area. 

I hope this letter will help Lyme dog owners keep their dogs on leads! 

Xan Bichindaritz
(by email)

REGARDING the recent debate on allowing dogs onto Lyme Regis beach, what is the point in spending tens of millions of pounds on a world class beach and ancillary water treatment works just to let it become a dog toilet?

I have read that some folk think the problem can be solved by insisting the creatures are kept on a lead.

This summer my family and I were enjoying the lovely view from our rented beach hut, when a dog owner walked past with a large dog on a lead which stopped in front of us to evacuate its rear end, leaving a watery mess all over the concrete walk way.

Credit to the owner that they got a bucket of water to sluice it onto the sand, but considering there were several toddlers yards away fastidiously putting pebbles in their mouths as they are want to do, rather shows that the problem is not solved by leads or plastic doggy bags. 

I think the time has come to ban dogs in their entirety from both the beach and adjacent access roads; they are nothing but a nuisance and a hazard.

Richard Hendrik,
Lyme Regis

I WAS saddened to read about the accident involving a young boy and a dog on Lyme Regis beach on December 1. I feel for all those involved, including the grandparents of the boy and the owner of the dog.

I note on reading the article that the child in question was a 12 year old boy, there was no details given about the dog, its age or type.

I’m sure the owner of the dog would not have had the dog running free if the dog was in the habit of attacking small humans, likewise the boy, by the age of 12, was probably already aware of how dogs can sometimes react to humans.

To suggest that the child might be scared of dogs for the rest of his life may be credible in the case of a much younger child but my experience of 12 year old boys suggests otherwise.

Councillor Lovell has, in my opinion, overreacted to this event and called for penalties that will simply not make sense.

I have seen dogs enjoying the two main beaches in Lyme Regis everyday since October 1, on days when humans are few and far between. The beach is a wonderful open space and using it sensibly is a gift to us all.

If an accident causes draconian laws to be introduced then perhaps Councillor Lovell would like to ban vehicles on the A35 as three cars crashed in an accident there on December 21, as reported on page 3 of the same issue of LymeOnline. Common sense please, Councillor Lovell, knee jerk reactions are best left to American presidents.

As for the issue of dog mess, I am proud to live in Lyme Regis and always carry dog poo bags with me to pick up after dog owners who do not! Dogs don’t all defecate off the lead, and sometimes owners can forget to carry poo bags, come on let’s get real.

Funnily enough I picked up litter left by children at the playground in Anning Road last week and put it in the rubbish bin not 15 feet away. Perhaps Councillor Lovell would consider banning children from the playground?

Stop complaining, start doing something positive to make Lyme Regis the best place in the world to live.

David Chatto
(by email)

FINALLY, finally it looks like something  might get done about dogs running crazy on the main beach.

October 1 was a lovely, mild day with plenty of families about with small children. However there were at least 10 dogs running, barking, some like crazy and these poor families were cowering in corners to keep their children safe. I’m surprised it took so long before a child got bitten.

I go swimming quite regularly, but most of the time it seems the beach is taken over by dogs. It is especially surprising as Lyme is the only nice sandy beach in this stretch of Dorset and I’m sure word got round for dog owners as people seem to come from all over the place to let their dogs run free here.

It’s more like visiting a dog club and we’ve joked to rename the town Dog Regis.

I actually saw a photo in a Lyme magazine advertising a dog walker and three guesses where she was with her pack of dogs. Yes, Lyme Regis beach.

Only last week, a dog peed against the wall where my clothes were, once they left faeces right next to my clothes and another time one was digging sand right over my belongings. The owners are usually on the other side of beach, they probably didn’t even notice.

When I’m in the water I’m always on the look out if a dog is getting near my clothes again, half the time I’m a nervous wreck, instead of enjoying the beautiful view, while having a relaxing swim.

I had family coming over for Christmas from Biarritz in France, another beautiful seaside town. They couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the beach with dogs barking and running everywhere, that is just not happening over there.

So please, town council, take note, make this beach suitable for all to enjoy!

Name and address supplied

WHILST even one incident of this nature is one too many and very regrettable, as it is indeed the responsibility of all owners to have their dog under control, I have invested much time and effort on the training of my own dog to ensure that she is not a threat to any children or adults wherever she is.

Her enjoyment of  playing on the sandy beach during the winter months is a pleasure to see, particularly when inclement weather makes other alternatives tricky, although I don’t take her there when the beach is busy in consideration of families with children.

I can understand how frightening this incident must have been for all concerned but I feel it is very important to retain a sense of perspective on the issue.

The use of the beach since winter 2017 has been a welcome bonus to residents and visitors alike and I think it would be a travesty if, as a result of this incident, once again, all dogs would be required to be on a lead at all times.

However, I would support an extension of the ban from March to October instead of that currently in place to cover early Easters and the autumn half term.

It is my hope that any ensuing debate on the issue will be considered and well balanced.

Lesley Gooden
(by email)

YES, I think in view of a little boy being bitten now, dogs should be banned completely from the two main beaches in Lyme Regis all year round, except on leads in the winter time.

They have plenty of freedom on East Cliff, Church Cliff and Monmouth Beaches but these should be prominently advertised so that visitors see it and know exactly where to go for dog friendly beaches.

I have a small dachshund and we are reluctant to let her run free for fear of uncontrollable bigger dogs causing injury so she is kept on a lead. Parents of children must feel the same way, and why should a little boy be possibly scarred and scared for life by somebody’s free running dog?

Rosalyn Cox
(by email)

LAST year my wife got bitten on the calf and I had to take her for tetanus injection. The dog was not controlled by owner in the gardens.

I walk along the beach path everyday and the amount of dogs mess is unbelievable because of owners not picking it up.

There needs to be bigger notices and fines but I very much doubt anything will be done with our local councillors.

Jon Clements,
Lyme Regis

I THINK dogs should not be allowed on the main beach at all. It means there is nowhere safe for children to play.

The majority of dogs are not at all under control and I am surprised an incident has not happened before.

I would gladly sign a petition banning dogs on main beach.

S. Butter
(by email)

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