Group petition to lift dog ban

2013-07-15 00:00

DOG owners have rallied together to fight the dog ban at the National Botanical Gardens, which will come into effect at the end of the year.

The botanical gardens in Pietermaritzburg is currently the only botanical gardens in the country that allows dogs.

This will change as of December 31. A group of dog lovers, who call themselves Dogs ’n Bots, sent a petition around to prevent the ban on dogs at the gardens.

Tami Hammerschlag of Dogs ’n Bots said: “We are very upset about dogs being banned from the gardens. When we realised how many people were upset, we sent the petitions around and they came back to us filled. Lots of people are committed to this.”

With 1 070 signatures collected, Dogs ’n Bots have arranged to meet curator of the gardens Allen Nene, to present him with the petitions in person. They have already sent him a letter in this regard.

“I have received the letter and have arranged to meet the group,” Nene confirmed.

“The four main reasons why we have decided to ban dogs are: they are a safety risk to the visitors who don’t have dogs; people do not keep their dogs leashed and let them run around unattended; in some of the estate areas, hunting dogs have been released that chase away the wildlife; and people are not cleaning up after their dogs when they poo,” Nene explained.

Dogs ’n Bots have sent Nene a letter on behalf of the responsible dog owners and regular users of the gardens. In the letter, seen by The Witness, they propose that punitive action be taken against dog owners who don’t pick up after their dogs or those who take their dogs off their leashes.

They also propose that a plastic dispenser be stationed near the entrance where biodegradable bags can be sold to dog owners, to pick up after their dogs, with “doggie bins” provided.

They will meet with Nene and a representative from the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi) in early August to hand over the petitions. From there on, Nene and his superiors at Sanbi will make a decision regarding the possible lifting of the ban.

“It very sad that the gardens may ban dogs. I always pick up after my dog and keep him on his leash. I value the gardens, as I can take my dog there for walks and I know many people feel the same,” said Hammerschlag.

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