A new dog control order called a “Public Space Protection Order” (PSPO) that is being introduced by Ribble Valley Borough Council may have the effect of forcing local dog owners to break the law.
Currently, under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act, owners have a duty to provide for their animal’s welfare, which includes exercising them.
However, the draft version of the new order appears to bring in a blanket ban on the exercising of dogs off leads on all council owned land.
Indeed, this blanket ban is contrary to the guidance for introducing the orders provided by the Local Government Association, which says:
In some cases of course it will not be appropriate to introduce broad-scale restrictions…. In determining the area covered by restrictions, councils should therefore consider how to accommodate the need for owners to exercise their animals. The area which the PSPO will cover must be clearly defined. Mapping out areas where certain behaviours are permitted may also be helpful; for instance identifying specific park areas where dogs can be let off a lead without breaching the PSPO.
Leader of the Opposition on Ribble Valley Borough Council Cllr Allan Knox said: “It is clear that the implementation of the Public Space Protection Orders has not been thought through.
“Yes, it is important to tackle dog-fouling and there are some sensible suggestions in some of the draft orders. But, to ban dogs exercising freely on the Castle Field seems a draconian punishment for the vast majority of dog owners, who act responsibly.
“It also seems that it is impossible to enforce – as someone who walks through the park at all times the day and night I know that dog owners exercise their dogs from very early morning till late at night.
“It also seems madness that the council only has one- full-time equivalent dog warden – it would be much better to employ a second warden than to bring in these silly orders.
“Finally, dog ownership isn’t just about liking dogs. The companionship of a dog reduces the feelings of social isolation & loneliness, whilst the need to exercise it increases peoples’ fitness and health and makes the dog owner engage with their local community & environment. One of the council’s goals is to promote the wellbeing of its residents, so why on earth are they trying to make dog ownership difficult?”