Monthly Archives: August 2008

Dogs and Pools

Following on from my last serious post about dogs being left in hot cars in the summer sun Hot Dogs, I’m keeping the serious stuff going with a hard hitting article about another equally fatal danger that lurks in many places especially during this hot summer season.

Swimming pools.

Now especially here in Spain but I gather it is prevalent in many warm countries, many homes and community areas have their own swimming pools. We have one in our community and it is open to all residents in our small array of homes. Being in the centre of our communal gardens each home has easy access to the pool. There are signs everywhere saying NO DOGS and for very good reason.

Our pool, like most private or community pools is not supervised by a dedicated attendant, so supervision of children is left in the capable hands of the parents and here in Spain, the family unit is much stronger than in many other countries. This works well as it should do – naturally parents are the best people to look after their children and there are always adults in the vicinity of the pool during the day.

But at other times there is no one at the pool. Children are not allowed in the pool after dark – a rule imposed by their parents for safety reasons, so there is no need.

But what about dogs?

Well, it is up to the owners of dogs to ensure they don’t get into the communal gardens where they are not allowed but mistakes can be made. A gate can be left open and an inquisitive four legged explorer may take a stroll to see if there is anything interesting. It has happened only recently that a splash was heard in the pool after dark by one resident who went down to look only to find a small dog frantically swimming around the pool looking for a way out.

Now most pools in Spain and other Mediterranean countries have the common ladders for people to get in and out, but these are no use to a dog, who can’t climb a ladder! In this case, had it not been for the diligence of that resident, that dog would have swum around and around until it was exhausted and then drowned. Luckily there was a happy ending as the resident got the dog out of the pool.

But we hear reports of many unhappy endings and it is so sad to hear about. Unfortunately, it is often not economically viable to restructure a communal pool to include steps at the shallow end, so changes cannot be made. It is antisocial to cordon off a pool just so a dog cannot gain access and in any event an access gate just just as easily be left open by an irresponsible person. The best that can be done is what our community actioned a few years ago and that is completely fence in the entire communal gardens with lockable security gates. That keeps out dogs who have gotten out of their homes and are wandering around the streets as well as non-residents.

But still this is not enough as some of the homes are rented through the summer to people who don’t respect our security and carelessly and irresponsibly leave gates open. That is how the stray dog got in on that occasion.

There is no easy solution to this problem, because people are not going to spend money on restructuring their pools or fencing them off, especially now that money is a lot tighter with the recession biting hard. Communities cannot police their gardens 24/7 as it is just too expensive. You may pipe up and say:

“What price a dog’s life?”

To that there is no sensible answer, except to retort “What price some education for ignorant, irresponsible people who don’t care enough about the security measures already in place in the homes they are not living in permanently.”

While pools can ultimately kill dogs, the problem can be looked upon in the same way as the safety of guns. It is said that “guns don’t kill – people using guns kill.” In the same way, and this goes for children as well as dogs – “pools don’t kill, ignorance and irresponsibility kills.”

But then, so many people don’t care. Until it happens to their dog, or their child.

Terry Didcott
For Dogs