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 with dog owners.
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.
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.
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.