Two dogs which had been tied to a swimming beacon (seen above) were apparently dragged into the water by lifeguards. One broke free, but the other had to be untied by beachgoers. Picture: Facebook

Durban - Animal lovers were angered this week over reports that two lifeguards had tried to drown a pair of dogs at a Durban beach.

Personal trainer Malcolm McCann witnessed the incident at Pirates Beach at 6am on Wednesday.

An elderly man arrived with two Jack Russells and tied them to a swimming beacon near the lifeguard station while he went for a dip, McCann said.

There were no lifeguards on duty at the time but a short while later they arrived and started setting up for the day.

“When they approached the dogs, the animals started barking at them,” he said.

The lifeguards threw sand at the dogs.

“They asked us who the owner was but we didn’t know,” said McCann.

“Then they started dragging the beacon, with the dogs still attached, into the water.”

At first, McCann thought they would just move the beacon a little closer to the water’s edge but when he noticed they were taking it into the sea he “dropped everything”.

He and another beachgoer raced to assist the animals.

“One dog had broken free by the time I got there, but the other was under water,” he said. Together, the men freed the terrified animal.

They contacted the police, who went to the scene. By Thursday, however, a docket had not been opened. McCann said the dogs were “shaken but all right” but their owner had been upset.

After McCann recounted the ordeal on Facebook, others responded with outrage.

Teresa Lugg called it “horrific” and Melissa Abbott commented: “Disgusting! (We) should tie them to the pole and send them out to sea!”

Bronwen Honey agreed it was “disgusting”. “How could they?” she asked.

Durban and Coast SPCA spokeswoman Caroline Smith said they were investigating and were in the process of obtaining witness statements.

City spokesman Thabo Mofokeng would not comment on rumours that the dogs’ owner had been issued with a fine for having a dog on the beach.

He also would not say whether or not the lifeguards had been subject to an internal disciplinary process. The deputy head of eThekwini municipality’s Parks, Leisure and Cemeteries Department, Christo Swart, said the municipality was investigating.

“We urge witnesses to come forward,” he said.

He can be emailed at [email protected] or contacted on 031 311 4370.

The Mercury