Allowing our dogs the freedom to play with others sounds wonderful but there are some very serious risks involved.
Not every dog enjoys social interaction with others.
Also there is a mistaken belief among many dog owners that all dogs are happy to play with others and if not then they will "sort it out". Nothing can be further from the truth.
Similar to their owners, dogs have their social circle of friends and depending on their nature and past experiences they will respond to strangers in different ways.
As a veterinarian I see the sad consequences where social meetings go wrong, necessitating hospitalisation, surgery and sometimes even resulting in death.
Permitted off lead dog areas are only successful under certain strict conditions and in a very controlled environment.
Manning Valley beaches are designated as 24 hour "off lead", risking the safety of pets and their owners.
For off lead areas to be successful it would require that all dogs attending these areas to be friendly with other animals and that all owners have extensive knowledge of animal behaviour and effective control over their dog. It is not possible to achieve this on beach.
Clients of mine who previously enjoyed taking their dog to the beach o -lead no longer do so for fear of off- lead dogs.
In addition there are people in our community who have a fear of dogs and for them a walk on the beach can be a cause for anxiety.