DOG owners are kicking up over a new year-round ban on animals at two popular south Dublin beaches.
Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council is slapping the ban on the bathing areas of Seapoint and Sandycove strands in new bye-laws.
But campaign group Dogs Unleashed says it's unhappy with the move, which was opposed by 5,000 signatories to a petition.
"We're deeply disturbed that local dog owners can never take their dogs onto these areas," chairwoman Liz Neligan told the Herald.
The amended bye-laws come into effect from January 1 and also mean animals are banned from the designated bathing areas of Killiney beach from 10am to 7pm between May and September.
Dogs Unleashed became aware of the plans for Seapoint and Sandycove only days prior to them being agreed by Dun Laoghaire council.
However, the Seapoint Swimmers Association was in favour of the ban.
Ms Neligan said: "We knew that the swimmers were campaigning for the exclusion but we didn't realise it would be the majority decision (of councillors)."
She added that the council is claiming it has designated most of the local authority's beaches as areas where dogs can be exercised under effectual control as per the Control of Dogs Act.
Her group believes banning animals from any strand is a "step too far" and that the additional clauses added by the council last week have "complicated the laws yet again".
In a letter to councillors, the Seapoint swimmers pointed out that people bathe in the beach practically all year round, so dogs are a "hazard", even during the winter months. It added: "Dogs are unpredictable in their behaviour with children and there are many examples of even docile or trained dogs attacking children."
Dun Laoghaire says the bye-laws follow extensive consultation with the public.
They amend the existing regulations on the control of dogs on beaches.
"They are less restrictive on dog owners and recognise the needs of all beach users by achieving a balance between dog owners, the general public and swimmers," the council says. The current bye-laws dating from 2009 state dogs are not allowed unleashed at any time on any beach in Dun Laoghaire's jurisdiction.
However, the amended measures will allow dogs to run free outside of designated bathing or lifeguard control areas.
"The new bye-laws mean restrictions will now only exist on 300 of the 800 metres of the beach in Seapoint, 400 metres of 5km of coastline in the Killiney area and less than a kilometre of the total 17 kilometres of coastline in the county," the council says.