A new law introduced by Gosport Borough Council will see penalties put in place for anyone caught walking more than four dogs at a time. The town council based in Hampshire will see dog owners fined £100 if they are seen breaking this new, yet rather controversial, law.
Councillor Graham Burgess said the new rules were being implemented to stop owners from leaving dog mess in public spaces. Dog owners will also be required to prove they are carrying dog waste bags to clean up after their pets.
Under previous rules dog owners were permitted to walk up to six dogs but Councillor Burgess said they had “modified the rules a lot to meet the worries of dog owners and dog walkers”. He added, “Councillors get a lot of complaints about these issues, for many residents they’re a big concern.
“Public spaces are for everyone to share, and we need to take action on the problems that exist. That’s why we’re reducing the number of dogs one person is allowed to walk from six to four.
“We understand that some dog owners and walkers did not support this, but we’ve had recent feedback from the public in general that has been in support of it.
“People will also have to carry something enabling them to pick up dog mess, and council officers will be able to direct people to put their dog on a lead.”
However, the change in policy has of course been met with much dismay from owners and professional dog-walkers who will see their businesses affected. One professional dog walker with five huskies (who will now have to walk her dogs in two packs) said the policy change would penalise responsible dog owners.
Councillors have confirmed the changes will only address dog fouling and potentially out of control groups. Councillor John Tanner furthered this saying, “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”.
There are plans for a similar policy to come to the fore in Richmond in southwest London this autumn.
Only last year did the Kennel Club warn the public that dog walking had been banned or severely restricted in more than 3,300 of Britain’s open parks and spaces in a move which was slammed as “criminalising” everyday life.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said that local authorities in some areas appeared “to be waging a war on dogs and their owners”.
The new rules will be enforced from May 1st 2017 with an on-the-spot fine reduced to £50 if the fine is paid immediately.
Images courtesy of Kennel Club & Stock.