Adding Insult to Injury

floods I was listening to an item on radio 4 last night about the aftermath of the devastating floods in York. The reporter was visiting roads that had been flooded and speaking to the remaining residents.

It must always be difficult finding alternative accommodation at short notice in such circumstances; many people had found rented premises. However, one man was remaining in unsuitable conditions after his house had been flooded up the skirting boards because he could not find a landlord that would accept his dogs.

This is a disgraceful situation. No doubt there would be an outcry if landlords en masse refused to accept children because they are noisy, may draw on the walls or play ball games and annoy the neighbours. More than a quarter of the popoulation of the UK own dogs: now we might not be the most houseproud of people but our dogs are by and large perfectly capable of living civilised lives alongside humans when trained well.

We must continue to campaign for fair access for dog owners to all appropriate areas of society, including housing. Owners must take responsiblity for their dog’s behaviour and take the consequences if their dog does cause damage. However, the default position should not be one of prejudice against dogs because of the behaviour of a minority.

Details of dog friendly housing and dog friendly letting, along with other campaigns, can be accessed via the DogsNet Campaigns for Access page.

Dover Council Imposes Criminal Sanctions on Dog Walkers

Dover District Council imposed a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) affective from July 27th, 2015 to be in place for three years requiring that dogs be kept on leads under threat of criminal prosecution. They state that it will “replace a number of out of date by-laws and create a more comprehensive and consistent approach when dealing with issues such as dog fouling, keeping dogs on leads and excluding dogs from specified areas.”

Having a dog off the lead on a designated highway is already illegal under the Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 27, but it is certainly not enforced in London or many other places that I have visited. This however is far more Draconian and I believe contradicts the requirements of the Anuimal Welfare Act 2006 which imposes a duty of care on dog owners to enable their dogs to exhibit “normal” behaviours – surely including having adequate, off-lead exercise?

The order:

  • Excludes dogs from:
    • enclosed children’s play areas
    • specific beaches at certain times of year
    • specific sporting or recreational facilities
    • Requires dogs to be kept on leads:
    • within specific churchyards and cemeteries
    • specific seafront promenades and seafront gardens
    • specific memorial sites and nature reserves
    • Requires dog owners to remove dog faeces
    • This applies to any land to which is open to air and to which the public have access
    • Requires dog owners to put their dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer
    • This will apply to any public land where a dog is considered to be out of control or causing alarm and distress.

Breaches of the order are liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to £1,000. Fixed penalty notices of £75.00 can also be applied.

PSPOs may be enforced by police officers, police community safety officers and any officers designated by Dover District Council.
Full details are available here .

This is insidious legislation that imposes huge restrictions on dog walkers, has the potential to criminalise responsible dog owners for making minor mistakes such as missing a doig defecating and does nothing to tackle irresponsible owners including the serious problem of untrained, out fo control dogs.

How much of it is about pandering to an anti-dog lobby, hysteria about protecting children from supposed disease and, of course, raising revue for cash-strapped councils?

Living with a Dog Is Good for Your Immune System

microbes Like many people, I half listen to Radio 4’s Today programme as I rush around changing from dog walking to office wear and eating on the run.

Every so often I am arrested by something that stops the frantic race against the clock and such was the case when Professor Dunn spoke about the effect of living with a dog on the human immune system.

I had read a brief paper about this but it was gratifying to hear it promoted on this flagship radio broadcast as a counter to the ban on dogs in so many public places.

Professor Dunn blogs on the Your Wild Life website and states there:

“Having a dog influences the microbes in our homes and in doing so potentially reduces our risk of having children with asthma and other autoimmune disorders.”

Phew, we can stop beating ourselves up about housework! Read more on the Your Wildlife site.

Dog Owners Are A Force To Be Reckoned With

dog ownership The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has just stated that 29% of households have dependent children. The latest PDSA PAW Report states that 51% of households has a pet with 24% owning dogs.

That should entitle dog owners to a significant voice in their communities and may be a useful statistic to cite when campaigning for better access, facilities and considerations such as flexible working and dog-friendly workplaces.

Network Rail Take The Safety Lead

Still from Take the Lead) Network Rail has teamed up with the Dogs Trust to produce a hard hitting video in an attempt to prevent injuries and fatalities on the rail network.

Those who thought that the infamous “Fenton” video was funny should learn a salutary lesson. Network Rail, the company that is responsible for track and rail infrastructure, state that between April 1st, 2010 and March 31st, 2015 there were 181 recorded near misses where train drivers have had to apply their brake and narrowly avoided a collision with a person and a dog.


Think about it.

That’s the average attendance at a small dog show narrowly avoiding being injured or killed every five years.

In the same period, there were five fatalities of people who were with a dog at the time of the collision.

Imagine if the five people in line for Best in Show at the same event were killed every five years.

Full details are available here.

Take care, train and re-inforce recall and if in doubt, clip on a lead or a long line.

Bad Dog Law

dog ban The UK press reported yesterday that the state of Florida has enacted a law threatening dog owners with 60 days in prison if they “sneak” their pet into a restaurant, aeroplane or other public place by “pretending” that they are an assistant dog.

This is supposed to help people with “real” disabilities. This is the same state that threatened two pastors and a 90 year old with 60 days in prison for feeding the homeless in its attempt to “cleanse” its streets of homeless people. It seems that Florida considers that people with physical or mental disabilities are worth defending but not those that violate the most sacred law that “thou shalt be seen to be rich or not seen at all”.

So why are owners resorting to this action? Surely it is because they have been unreasonably denied access to public spaces when accompanied by their dog. The complaints do not seem to be about problem behaviour (of the dogs that is), so if access is allowed for assistance dogs, why not all (well-behaved) dogs? If some dogs are considered capable of travelling in an aircraft (or ferry) cabin or train carriage, why not all? Airlines could always impose a restriction on the number of dogs allowed in flight – surely not a problem on short flights?

I would have no problem producing proof that my dog is vaccinated and wormed as long as parents are obliged to do the same for their children. I really am not worried about catching toxicara in a cafe or, frankly, even the odd flea bite, although this is not an excuse not to rid your dog of parasites. Dogs also do not harbour or transmit the common cold. I am however always worried about catching chicken pox which I happen not to have had, and about any number of other diseases transmittable between humans that I might catch from unvaccinated children or expectorating adults.

Florida has some well-worded legislation regarding responsible dog ownership, not least its approach to dangerous dogs. What a pity it does not follow through by supporting well-behaved dogs in public places.

Manners On Public Transport

Travelling back from a show on Sunday, I made a beeline for a bank of empty seats on a fairly crowded train. Of course, there is always a reason that seats are empty on these occasions – this time is was because of the small bulldog bitch on the adjacent seats.

I mean that literally – ON the seats. The handlers – amateur actors by all accounts (they were reading loudly, ostentatiously and very badly from a script propped up against the window) – had placed their rather sweet dog on the seat beside them. Excited by the presence of my dog, she then leapt up and down across six seats, shedding hair and depositing paw marks as she went. At one point, I had to shout at them before they finally took notice of me as she was about to jump down on top of my dog, which, given her weight and the height from which she was attempting to jump, would have been unpleasant for all concerned.

It is behaviour like this that gives us all a bad name and, ultimately, will lead to us being banned from public transport – a disaster for a non-driver such as myself.

Dog Walkers Injured By Cattle

Two  dog wakers have been injured by cattle within days of each other at the end of May, one in Warwickshire, the other in Dorset. It is vital that dog owners keep their dogs under control (on a lead) near livestock and pick up after them, not only for our own and our dog’s safety, by so that we can expect reasonable access to the countryside.

Livestock can be dangerous, especially with young a foot. Your dog can also transmit neosporosis to cattle and sarcocystosis to sheep. Worm your dog regularly with a veterinary wormer. Accustom your dog to being calm around livestock -country shows are a ghood place to do this safely. Avoid walking through pasture with livestock if at all possible. It is better to take a detour than to have an accident, even if you think that have right of way. You can always report a restriction later. Stay quiet and calm around livestock.

If you are charged by cattle DROP YOUR LEAD and seek safety as calmly as possible.