Cliff edge risk to dogs and humans

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I today witnessed the death of a dog that ran accidentally over the edge of a cliff on the Seven Sisters, near Burling Gap.

The coastguard (who were extremely helpful) state that this happens frequently.

I don’t wish to labour the point regarding distress to all concerned, but it was a hugely upsetting experience for everyone both directly and indirectly involved.

I do however wish to labour the point that the witnesses and responders were exposed to a falls risk in the immediate assessment and management of the incident at the cliff edge and by rising tides on the beach during the eventual recovery of the animal.

As the remainder of our group continued our walk, we became aware of many other dogs off-lead on the cliffs and advised grateful owners accordingly.

I feel that similar incidents could be reduced by:-

1. A prominent warning on your websites for dog walkers to keep their animals on a lead; explicitly stating that there is a falls risk;

2. More prominent signage on the cliffs with an instruction to keep dogs on leads; explicitly stating that there is a falls risk.

Please do not allow this situation to continue.

Please take positive action to:

1. Reduce the number of people who have to go home with their dead dog wrapped in a foil blanket, have to explain to their children why and how their pet perished and then manage the subsequent feelings of guilt;

2. Reduce the significant risks to human witnesses/responders to such incidents who impulsively chase after, or who compulsively approach the edge of the cliffs to help, their animals and/or who may be cut off by the tides in attempting to rescue/recover the affected animals.

Dr Joseph I Mulae