Beach users say dogs causing problems

A community group wants to be able to exercise their dogs off-leash at Mellons Bay Beach all year round. Times photo Wayne Martin

The Howick Local Board has been asked to be “very careful” with the rules relating to dogs on beaches.

Local residents Catherine Priscott and her husband addressed the board on the issue during the public forum section of its previous business meeting.

They spoke in response to a petition presented to the board in March by the Mellons Bay Dog Lovers community group that was signed by more than 430 people and asks for Mellons Bay Beach to be an off-leash dog area year-round.

The petition says during summer months dogs are prohibited from using the beach between 10am-5pm except for a small, rocky, inhospitable area west of the stormwater pipe.

There are many more pleasant beaches nearby, including Cockle Bay, Howick and Eastern Beaches, it states.

“These three beaches are more welcoming for swimmers and picnickers than Mellons Bay, which is comparatively rocky and unsuitable for family groups.

“Hence usage remains low for non-dog owners in comparison to these other ‘better’ beaches.

“We are therefore requesting council consideration to allow Mellons Bay Beach to be an off-leash area all year round.”

The Priscotts told the board the number of dogs using Mellons Bay Beach is already a problem and allowing more to access the space year-round would make things worse.

Catherine Priscott said dogs had knocked over several people at the beach.

“Mellons Bay Beach used to be very popular, but because of dogs and how people have been knocked over, fewer and fewer people are using it.

“It’s a real shame because it’s a very nice, safe beach for children.”

She said she and her husband like to walk to the beach and “don’t want to have to get in the car”.

“A lot of Mellons Bay people would like to walk to the beach and not have to get into a car and go to another beach because of the dogs.”

Her husband said Mellons Bay Beach is a small beach and dogs are a “problem” there now.

“I realise the board doesn’t have a say on opening beach rules for Auckland-wide, therefore the Howick [Local] Board doesn’t have the ability to do anything at the moment.

“When it comes up again you should be very careful of the decision because if there’s only one beach open, dogs from all over Auckland will come here.

“There’s a problem now and it will be a huge problem in future.”

He said there’s an issue at the beach relating to certain people who are “very aggressive”.

“I’ve been threatened with violence. One person threatened to kill me.

“It’s ridiculous. There are large dogs and they are not under control.”

According to Auckland Council, dogs must be on-leash at all times when using the reserve at Mellons Bay Beach.

They can be off-leash at all times in the area to the west of the water pipe.

In the area east of the water pipe, dogs are prohibited during summer months, from December 1 to March 1, between 10am-5pm and can be off-leash from 5pm-10am.

During winter, from March 2 to November 30, they’re allowed off-leash at all times.