For us dog owners our local park is often the first port of call when we need (and note, I do say need) to take our dog for their daily exercise. Local green spaces have since time immemorial been the place where dog owners go to give their dog a taste of fresh air and a chance to give their legs a stretch. But there’s a problem. It turns out many councils in the UK have been using a piece of legislation dubbed ‘the busybodies charter’ to ban dogs from parks. Now, there’s a few things I think we can all spot that are wrong with this but let’s just focus on the big ones shall we?
1. We dog owners pay our taxes too. Does our money not count when it comes to who can and can’t use local green spaces?
2. Dogs need exercise. That’s, erm, actually part of the law of the land (see Animal Welfare Act 2004)
3. If dogs are being denied access to places to exercise we’re going to have to face the fact that we can probably expect to see more incidents of dog attacks than ever before. There is a well established link between under exercised dogs and aggressive behaviour.
The Telegraph reports:
Dog walking has been banned or severely restricted in more than 3,300 parks and open spaces in just two years since the introduction of new asbo-style control orders nicknamed the “busybodies’ charter”, it can be disclosed.
The Kennel Club accused local councils of using controversial new powers to wage an unnecessary and unjustified “war on dogs and their owners”.
Animal welfare charities said the restrictions could amount to cruelty and could even be forcing owners to break the law by denying their dogs proper exercise.
Meanwhile campaigners against over-regulation said it signalled a worrying trend towards “criminalising” everyday life.
According to estimates by the Kennel Club, dogs have been completely banned from at least 2,205 public places including parks, playing fields and beaches in England and Wales using PSPOs.
They have also been forbidden from running or playing off a lead in 1,100 others places.
As a group, it increasingly feels like dog owners are being somewhat stigmatised as a result of the anti-social behaviour of bad owners. Here’s the thing, us good dog owners actually find the irresponsible owners as annoying as non dog owners do. Not all dog owners allow their dogs to hassle people, don’t clean up after them or permit their dog to behave in any other ways that are an inconvenience to other people.
The problem as I see it is that for all of the bad behaviour that these councils complain of – dogs being dangerously out of control, owners not clearing up after their dogs etc – there are already laws in place designed to tackle these issues. So why are they not being enforced? I think we know the answer to that. Local council budgets are being cut, dog warden services are being squeezed and, ultimately, these councils think the simplest and easiest course of action to fix these problems is to take a broad brush and ban all dogs from public green spaces.
How. Dare. They.
These are PUBLIC spaces. Our spaces. We pay for them. We vote for the people who run these councils and it’s time for good dog owners to stand up for themselves.
We must not allow our freedoms to be trampled on as a result of the actions of irresponsible owners. Protect your dog’s rights (under the Animal Welfare Act) and make sure to keep an eye on what your local council is up to. These people are supposed to serve the public and, the last time I checked, dog owners were tax paying members of public too.
What’s your view?