How dog walking limits damage responsible owners

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In October this year our council implemented a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) limiting the number of dogs a person in our local area can walk, which was unevidenced and only based on two anecdotal stories.

Research shows that only five per cent of the nation own more than three dogs so this PSPO limit will target an extreme minority of dog owners, of which I am part. This PSPO will severely impede owners of more than three dogs maintaining their dogs’ welfare under the 2006 Act as it is disproportionate and geographically covers the whole 75 square miles of Wyre Forest District Council.

I personally feel that I have been robbed of my independence. My social life has already been affected detrimentally as I am unable to go out with friends as I start my morning walks at 5.00 am, go to work for 7.5 hours as a key worker for the NHS and am then walking in the evening until 8.00.pm. By the time I have cooked and eaten my evening meal it is 9.00 pm and ready for bed to do the whole routine again.

If I don’t walk the dogs I will not only be failing them under the Animal Welfare Act, but I will be failing them as their loving owner, so I’m in a catch-22 situation.

My family and friends have helped when they can but they all lead active lives, so for the most part I am alone. Covid isolated me from March until I could become part of a bubble and now this PSPO will isolate me for at least the next 3 years and possibly longer. I am just too exhausted or it’s too late for me to meet friends. I used to go and see my Godsons and Goddaughters to put them to bed regularly but by the time I have finished walking the dogs it is too late to do this now. 

If I don’t walk the dogs I will not only be failing them under the Animal Welfare Act, but I will be failing them as their loving owner, so I’m in a catch-22 situation.

I have received a message from just one other dog owner in the WFDC who is also struggling with the effects of this PSPO and she is willing to speak out about this too. We really are a minority who have been unnecessarily affected by this unevidenced, disproportionate PSPO.  

Image by pasja1000 on Pixabay

I have been advised by a friend of the wife of a councillor that this PSPO was implemented as dog walkers are driving to parks and letting the dogs in their care run riot and foul everywhere without picking it up.

I agree this is despicable behaviour but this could be easily rectified without punishing other innocent people. An Enforcement officer would only need to be there or the person who complained about it could video or photograph it and a fine could be issued for each dog’s unpicked foul. I am sure this would be a simple resolution to this issue, again without punishing other innocent dog owners/walkers.  

I am currently being penalised for behaviour I am not guilty of. I pick up after each of my dogs around the WFDC area as the only land of yours I walk them on is pavements during the winter and they are always on lead. I also follow the law under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 by keeping my dogs under control.

With all this going on, we’ve decided to go National and attempt to get the Government to review/reform PSPO’s with this petition

Linda (my friend who is helping with the petition) and I have exhausted all avenues just at the moment regarding the local PSPO so we’ve put that to the back burner until the New Year ready for the Council’s review in March 2021.

However, whilst doing our research, it did highlight some very disturbing facts about PSPOs in general.  We were shocked to the core that there is no legislation to cover how and why they are implemented and even more shocked there is no way to appeal the PSPO itself and hard to appeal the fines once issued.  

We have been astounded by some of the PSPO’s that have been implemented over the country which include PSPO’s for littering bird seed, dictating what length dog lead you can have and we have heard that a council is trying to now ban horse riders from beaches.  

With all this going on, we’ve decided to go National and attempt to get the Government to review/reform PSPO’s with this petition

playing dog
Image by Katrin B. on Pixabay

The Home Office has helped us to draft this national petition. Some members of The House of Lords have been worried for some time about PSPOs and how they are being (mis)used and we have received written support from them. Last week we have also received an email from The Kennel Club confirming their support and advising they will promote our petition.

We have been overwhelmed by the responses we have had so far and felt that we had to do something ​as these PSPOs criminalise acts and behaviours that are not considered unlawful under British Law and we need to preserve the justice system in this country so that unevidenced PSPOs cannot take precedence over existing British Law.

This is a guest post by Lisa Taylor. Want to write for us? Visit www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/essay-submission or email editorial@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk

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