The UK’s largest dog welfare organisation is urging dog owners in Daventry to have their say on proposals which could restrict dog walking in the area and see responsible dog owners fined if they are not able to prove they have had ‘means to pick up’ while on a walk.
Daventry District Council is able to restrict dog access in the district through Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), which replaced Dog Control Orders under the Anti-Social, Crime and Policing Act 2015.
PSPOs can exclude anyone with dogs from certain areas, ensure dogs are kept on leads at all times in certain areas, and limit the number of dogs a person can walk at one time.
The council is currently consulting with the public to determine if there is a need for further dog restrictions in the district, such as a ban on dogs being exercised off lead in some or all of Daventry Country Park.
The Kennel Club says it would strongly oppose blanket restrictions such as the ones proposed in Daventry Country Park, which it says do not balance the needs of all of the park users.
Daventry District Council is also considering introducing a new measure to require all dog walkers to be able to produce a ‘means to pick up’ – namely a dog waste bag or similar receptacle.
The Kennel Club says it ‘supports proactive efforts on behalf of local authorities to encourage responsible dog ownership’, but says it fears this particular measure could see responsible owners being penalised unfairly.
The Club says responsible owners who take dog waste bags on walks may be approached to prove their ‘means to pick up’ after they have used the bags to clean up their dog’s waste, for example.
The Kennel Club says it would want to see a comprehensive awareness campaign being implemented in the area should this plan come into effect, to ensure dog owners are aware of the need to take an excess of dog waste bags with them when they go for a walk.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club secretary, said: “We would strongly recommend anyone in Daventry and the surrounding area to take a good look at these proposals and have their say to ensure that the outcome is as fair as possible for everyone.
“We are particularly concerned with how a ‘means to pick up’ could be defined when attempting to enforce this law, without risking a legal challenge.
“The irresponsible minority will always find ways to flout the law and could quite easily claim they are using any number of items on their person to pick up after their dog, so we believe the best spot checks that could be carried out are the ones to catch offenders in the act, rather than second guessing behaviours on the basis of what a dog walker is or is not carrying.
“Responsible dog owners will always pick up after their dogs and it is a great shame that the irresponsible minority of those who don’t are causing local authorities to look at more controversial measures to tackle the issue.
“Some aspects of the PSPOs, such as the requirement to pick up after a dog, are very sensible measures to help promote responsible dog ownership. However other aspects such as a blanket on-lead restrictions for Daventry Country Park are less reasonable and unlikely to be welcomed by the many responsible dog owners in the area whose pets enjoy local public spaces without any issue.”
The club points out that Government guidance says the council can consider other options, such as Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and Community Protection Notices, which target enforcement action at anti-social dog owners, rather than penalising everybody for the irresponsible actions of a few.
For further details on the consultation, and to respond to it, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/PublicSpaceProtectionOrder-EnhancedDogControlPowers. The consultation closes on August 10.