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Dog owners facing stiffer penalties from new laws

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: October 02, 2012

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DOG owners will be punished with fines of up to £1,000 if they fail to keep their pets on a lead – under new laws proposed by Mid Devon District Council.

Phoenix House chiefs will give staff the power to order people to put their dogs on leads in all public parks and on roads if they are showing aggression to others.

Owners of out-of-control animals will be given £80 fixed penalty notices and if they refuse to pay, court action will follow where fines of £1,000 could be imposed.

Paul Williams, head of environmental services for the authority, said similar orders would be adopted to combat the issue of dog-fouling.

He said: "If a dog is out of control, at the moment nobody has the ability, apart from a police constable, to do anything about it.

"We are talking about an order and it applies to any open land which the public has right to access. The orders are to give enforcement abilities to be used appropriately.

"This is about controlling dog-fouling and those out of control and not on a lead in a public place," he added.

Taxpayers have been consulted on the Dogs on Lead by Direction (Mid Devon) Order 2012 and Fouling of Land by Dogs (Mid Devon) Order 2012, which are hoped will be in place by December.

A total of 88 per cent of respondents support the new orders to reduce fouling on public land, except on moorland and woodland, and 66 per cent said it was an issue where they lived.

All public gardens, parks, pleasure and recreation grounds, public car parks, highways, cemeteries, allotments, nature reserves and sites of scientific or geographical interest will be covered by the orders.

Dogs are already prohibited from enclosed play areas and Amory Park, People's Park, Westexe Recreation Ground and Wilcombe playing field, Tiverton, as well as Newcombe's Meadow, Crediton, will be areas where they must be walked on leads.

Concern was expressed at Thursday's meeting of Mid Devon's cabinet that the Grand Western Canal and People's Park areas in Tiverton were blighted by careless owners and their pets.

Cllr Paul Williams, Tiverton, said: "Some people think a dog can run 200m in front out of sight and many do complain about that, and it is something we need to look at.

"Only recently somebody complained about an Alsatian running in People's Park not on a lead on a Saturday, and it was attacking dogs which were on leads.

"Dog owners have got to be responsible and some of them are not and they are the ones causing the grief for all of the others.

"They are not above the law," he added.

The meeting was held only a few weeks after a Lime Kiln Road resident's cat was put down because of the extent of injuries suffered in an attack by a dog which was being walked on the canal towpath.

The council has decided to carry out further work to see if the laws can be applied to other areas after Cllr Clive Eginton raised concerns that school fields were also blighted by dogs' mess.

"If we are not including school recreation grounds, we are missing a trick here," he said.

Read more from Tiverton Mid Devon Gazette

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  • exebomb  |  October 03 2012, 8:47AM

    Dog fouling is unacceptable and people should be fined, but it shouldnt be in the same catagory as not having dogs on leads if councils dont like dogs off leads in certain places then instead of punishing people they need to encorage people to do it in other places, in america there is a huge dog park in most suburbs with gated areas for more unstable dogs and dogs that arnt trained as well and wide open areas for others with water fountins and facilities, if its really costing them so much to control then they need to put there money where thier mouth is and make some dog parks.

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  • westwardhobod  |  October 03 2012, 8:04AM

    Yes please to dog parks and dogs on short leads too in public places. It is incredible that a 6 metre long trip hazard is not noticed by dog owners. This could be devastating for us older and infirm types who may not be able to see the lead stretched - for example - from one side of the road to the other! I have been jumped up on, ran up to, and barked at by many dogs including Alsations and even a Great Dane!!

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  • accom  |  October 03 2012, 7:01AM

    I love dogs, but I hate the smell of them. Hence, I have never owned one, I could not bear the stink, especially when they're wet. It's sad really because I think they're lovely animals.

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  • dimondbabe  |  October 02 2012, 10:19PM

    I love dogs but its true some people find them scary so dog owners do need to think about that! so i think its a good idea to make them keep their pets under control in parks etc. doggy parks are a fantastic idea for keeping everyone happy, what about doggy loos too???

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  • The_Real_SKoM  |  October 02 2012, 10:02PM

    Yes, darkdestroyer, nothing more dangerous than 'a dog approaching' Can we have similar rules for parents who fail to control their semi-ferral kids?

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  • darkdestroyer  |  October 02 2012, 5:24PM

    dog walkers who want to keep their dogs under control on a lead can carry on and the dogs that love to play and socialize with each other can do so. Also, parents with young children can also play without fear of dogs approaching, everyone is happy.

    |   5
  • darkdestroyer  |  October 02 2012, 5:17PM

    I would back any plan to introduce dog only play areas. my dog loves children and I worry he will accidentally knock one over in his efforts to greet with excitable enthusiasm. many of the parks in exeter could easily accomodate this in places such as flower pot and cowick barton playing fields to name a few.

    |   6
  • Sowester  |  October 02 2012, 4:42PM

    Even responsible owners seem to think that everybody else must feel enamored of their pets. Personally I would rather not be jumped at and slobbered over by excitable canines, so segregating them seems a great idea. When not in these designated areas dogs should be compulsorily on leads at all times, and kept away from passing strangers unless invited to approach.

    |   -1
  • APExeter  |  October 02 2012, 1:45PM

    raggetyannye- I couldn't agree more. This facility is widespread in America. The dog owning taxpayer has no such facility unlike the child owning tax payer who benefit extensively from facilities- Both pay the same taxes. These dog parks are a joy to behold in New York and are usually within a normal park where the kids love watching the dogs play unfettered without risk of collision.. The fees generated from the proposed crack down on irresponsible dog owners could go toward such a facility

    |   7
  • pete13  |  October 02 2012, 1:37PM

    Brilliant ideas !....can you send this to EDDC please !

    |   6