Responsible dog owners getting fed up with antisocial owners.

Recent survey shows responsible dog owners may be getting fed up with antisocial owners.

With the countryside festooned with dog poo bags hanging from every bush or gateway, poo on the beaches and in the middle of paths and pavements, out of control dogs running towards you in a threatening way and professional dog walkers blocking paths with hordes of dogs it is not surprising that many people are beginning to get irritated.

There has been an apparent increase in the number of complaints during the Covid months in the UK of dogs not being kept under control, not being cleared up after and intimidating or biting people probably due to more owners having the time to walk their dogs. Some of these complaints involve professional dog walkers causing alarm to other walkers and their dogs (13% of dog owners now use them). What many owners fail to realise is that taking a dog for a walk comes with its own set of rules, regulations, codes of practice and responsibilities in the same way as taking a car out for a drive.

dog walker with pack of dogs
Scenes like this can be intimidating to other dog walkers and people with a fear of dogs and perhaps an accident waiting to happen.

Many dog owners are blissfully unaware of what is expected of them.

Many owners refuse to act maturely in the common good and this has led to a steady movement by many countries including the U.K to clamp down on anti-social behaviour associated with exercising dogs. This involves restricting areas where dogs can be exercised or let loose, governing how many can be walked by one person and penalising those that do not clear up after their dogs or keep them under control. Already many beaches, parks, nature reserves, open access areas (on short lead 1 March to 31 July), areas of natural beauty and urban areas are off limits or on leads only.

U.K authorities use powers under the Dangerous Dogs Act 2020 to regulate the control of dogs and also Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) which make it possible to introduce measures such as keeping your dog on a lead or banning dogs from certain places, limiting the number of dogs with you (including professional dog walkers), clearing up after your dog and make it mandatory to carry a disposable bag or scoop.

U.K. Councils are increasingly cracking down on antisocial dog owners.

A recent survey and consultation carried out by Plymouth Council in Devon regarding proposed increases in restrictions on dogs resulted in some surprising and interesting results. Although 81% of those surveyed were dog owners, 95% of them approved of making a failure to have the means to clear up after their dog an offence and 55% approved of increasing areas where dogs had to be kept on a lead. This resulted in new bylaws making it a fixed penalty offence not to be carrying a poo bag or means to clear up after your dog from October 2020.  Any request by an enforcement officer to put your dog on a lead can result in £100 on the spot fines or £1000 if taken to court.

Plymouth Councillor Sally Haydon, said: The dog owners of Plymouth have spoken. Like us, they are fed up of the small minority of people who don’t pick up after their dog and they want something done about it”.

A limit of four dogs person.

In some countries, like the Australian Capitol Territory, dogs must be on a lead on all paved footpaths and cycles paths including 10 metres each side and are forbidden to swim in lakes and rivers unless designated. Some UK local councils are restricting the number of dogs you can walk together to four and issuing fines. A woman was fined £75 for walking five dogs by Staffordshire Borough Council.

Gosport Borough Council in Hampshire are among many others who have introduced a four dog limit. Gosport Councillor John Tanner said: “With more than four dogs, you are not taking your dog out for a walk but a pack of potentially dangerous animals for a riot around the park.”

The failure of some owners to act appropriately will inevitably ruin the pleasures of others leading to local authorities and the government introducing more draconian laws further restricting the freedom of dogs.

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Ear cropping of dogs, time to make it illegal to own one.

If Dobermans and the other breeds were meant to have cropped ears they would be born with them.

The ear cropping of dogs in the UK has been banned since 2006 when the Animal Welfare Act made it illegal but it is still an increasingly common sight to see these dogs being openly paraded in the streets and on social media. Australia has also banned the procedure, but there are still many countries in Europe and also the USA where it is still prevalent and actively encouraged. And this is where the problem lies.

The ban, like many animal welfare laws in the UK was not given enough thought and was never fit for purpose because it did not make it illegal to own an ear cropped dog making it easy to import them ready cropped or to take the dog to another country to have it done and thus circumvent the law allowing the suffering to take place elsewhere.

New petitions in the U.K. and U.S.A to ban the import of ear cropped dogs.

The RSPCA has recently announced a 236% increase in the last five years of the number of reports of dogs with cropped ears and are backing a new petition instigated by a dog trainer and welfare campaigner calling for a ban on importing dogs who have had their ears cropped. Their figure of 178 reports is obviously woefully understated and just the tip of the iceberg. Only last week I followed two men walking down the high street each with a doberman, one a three month pup, with splinted ears. Unless you are familiar with the the ban you are probably unaware there is a problem with it.

A similar petition has also been begun in the USA where the procedure can be legally performed by a licensed Veterinarian and where the American Kennel Association encourages it for dog shows. U.S. veterinarians still perform the procedure even though their governing body the American Veterinary Medical Association opposes it.

Dogs operated on abroad to circumvent the ban.

There are companies that legally import dogs with cropped ears into the UK and there is nothing to stop owners taking their dogs to countries in Europe that still allow it or even the USA and bring them back. There is little point in reporting them as the owners can legitimately claim they were done abroad.

Cropping is purely cosmetic and has no health benefits. There is no medical evidence that it prevents ear infections as often claimed by its proponents or any other health benefits. It is an inhumane and unnecessary procedure that serves no purpose other than changing the appearance of a dog. It is done more for the vanity of the owner than the well-being of the dog and because of a perverse belief that it makes the dogs look the way they “should look” and more attractive and fiercer.

Sadly a petition to ban the importation of dogs with cropped ears last year failed to get even half the required 100,000 signatures required for the Government to debate it. Whether this is an indication of the lack of interest or support of dog lovers is difficult to deduce, but there is another Government petition due to end in August 2021 to stop “the rising numbers of ear cropped dogs in the UK” which is also floundering somewhat.

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