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 They state that it will “replace a number of out of date by-laws and create a more comprehensive and consistent approach when dealing with issues such as dog fouling, keeping dogs on leads and excluding dogs from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?

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