Oh the smell of dogs! Not always pleasant, but through the funk there’s something friendly about it. Perhaps because there’s also a furry head resting on your knee with pleading eyes begging for a walk, a run, a breath of fresh air.
So you put your dog on a lead and go to feel the wind, smell the sea, and watch your dog run. The sand stretches before you as you throw a stick and let your dog off the lead.
But on the beaches of Otago…BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR DOG! Many beaches and conservation areas are closed to dogs for good penguinish reasons. Unlike humans, dogs love all kinds of smells. And even though penguins smell like day-old fish to me (memorable, yes, but not in a good way), to dogs penguins smell absolutely delicious. On Otago Beaches in May, three yellow-eyed penguins were killed by dogs.
When penguins are moulting between March and May, they are especially vulnerable, but they are at risk for dog attacks year round. For a list of beaches and conservation areas closed to dogs see this page on the DCC website, but also check this page for the many places you CAN take your dog safely with and without a leash.
If you take your dog for a walk in a restricted area, you could be fined $300, and there are concerned citizens patrolling beaches on the peninsula. If your dog kills protected wildlife you could face further criminal charges: fines of up to $20,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.
Enjoy walking your dog on unrestricted beaches, but please keep your pet away from penguin breeding areas.