Dog charity backs crackdown on ‘irresponsible’ pet owners

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AN animal welfare charity has welcomed a decision to ban dogs from some school grounds and from remembrance and wildlife areas in Leeds.

From January 1, the city council is introducing new orders aimed at dog owners which will mean their animals must be on leads on all streets, adjacent footpaths and grass verges and in cemeteries and crematoria.

A proposal to extend existing dog control orders introduced in the city at the beginning of this year was agreed by Leeds City Council’s executive board earlier this week.

It will mean:

A ban from school grounds where the schools have requested the order.

A further ban from remembrance and wildlife gardens.

Dogs must be on a lead at all times on all carriageways and adjacent footpaths and grass verges, as well as in cemeteries and crematoria.

They must also be put on a lead in any other places when directed by a council officer to do so if they consider the dog needs to be controlled.

The report has also clarified the policy for the walking of multiple dogs by professional dog walking services.

The arrangement will mean that professional dog walkers will be allowed to walk up to six dogs at a time, instead of having to keep it to no more than four, which is the rule for the general public.

A council spokesman said: “This is conditional on the professional dog walkers keeping the animals under full control.”

Council officers will still be able to instruct anyone with a dog to put it on a lead at any time if they consider it to be behaving badly. The existing orders also exclude dogs from children’s play areas in some parks.

Anyone breaching dog control orders has to pay a fixed penalty charge of £75, reduced to £50 for rapid payment. Failure to pay could lead to court and potentially fines of up to £1,000.

The dog welfare charity Dogs Trust welcomed the decision.

Elvira Meucci-Lyons, head of campaigns and community at Dogs Trust, said: “Dogs Trust supports the introduction of Dog Control Orders in Leeds and accepts that many councils believe that dogs should be kept on leads in specific areas.

“The charity believes wholly in responsible dog ownership and controlling your dog is a large part of this responsibility; Dogs Trust supports Orders that enforce the use of a lead in areas such as cemeteries, carriage ways and wildlife gardens. We also accept that it may appropriate to ban dogs from specific areas such as children’s playgrounds. These Control Orders are in place to protect the welfare of both dogs and members of the public.

“Whilst Dogs Trust understands the motivation of the council to keep dogs from certain public spaces, we are concerned that the areas from which dogs are banned are quite large and would wish to be assured that there is sufficient space available for dogs to be regularly exercised off their leads as that is required by the Animal Welfare Act (2006). It is important that dogs are able to exhibit normal behaviour and no dog can do so when restricted a short lead.”

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for environmental services at Leeds Council, said: “People in Leeds feel strongly that we need to be able to clamp down on unruly behaviour by dogs, as demonstrated in our consultations for both the original orders and these extended powers.

“Law-abiding dog owners and walkers who keep their animals under control and away from places where they could cause a nuisance will still be able to take them out in public as they wish.”

The council’s recent consultation exercise on extending the orders revealed a lot of support for the tightening of the rules on controlling dogs, according to the council.

Of the 372 people who responded, 90 per cent agreed dogs should be on leads in cemeteries.