Britain is a nation that loves its pooches, and the people of Leeds are no different.
But some of the city’s dogs have a dark side – tales of strays, violence and hundreds of instances of un-picked-up poo swamp recently-released council data.
Statistics released by Leeds City Council via Datamill North show that, during 2017 and 2018, the authority received 277 reports of dogs attacking humans, 447 of dogs attacking other animals and a stomach-churning 1,892 reports of dog-fouling across the district.
The authority said new measures to combat dog fouling have been brought in, and complaints have reduced by more than a quarter since 2015. It added that measures were also in place to ensure owners of out-of-control dogs will be prosecuted, and that it does all it can to ensure strays are reunited with their owners.
Statistics showed a comparative avalanche of dog mess during 2017 and 2018 in Armley, with 95 reports; Beeston and Holbeck (92); and Ardsley and Robin Hood (89). This is compared with areas such as Little London and Woodhouse; Headingley and Hyde Park; and Hunslet and Riverside – each ward saw fewer than 15 reports of dog fouling.
Authorised Leeds City Council officers issue fixed penalty notices of £75 to anyone who commits an offence. Failure to pay will result in prosecution in the Magistrates’ Court where the maximum fine for the offence is £1,000.
Literature from Leeds City Council on responsible dog ownership states: “Dog faeces is dirty, unsightly and a nuisance.
“In addition it has serious health implications especially for children and pregnant women. It can spread diseases which can cause a variety of illnesses from stomach upsets to blindness.
“Dog fouling causes a major problem to the environment across the city. The clean up costs to the council run into thousands of pounds each month as they have to employ extra resources to collect and dispose of such waste.
“As a result, Leeds City Council takes a zero tolerance approach to dog fouling offences.”
The council added that, following the introduction of dog control orders in 2012, complaints about dog fouling reduced by 26 per cent between 2015 and 2018.
The same dataset shows that during 2017 and 2018, you were most likely to be attacked by a dog in Beeston and Holbeck (22 reports); Killingbeck and Seacroft (16); or Armley (15), while Little London, Hyde Park, Woodhouse and Headingley are among the safest.
Notably, when it comes to dogs attacking other animals, the areas with the most instances were Farnley and Wortley (27); and Otley and Yeadon (23).
A council spokesperson said: “On receipt of a complaint of a dog attack the dog wardens will make contact with the person alleged to be responsible for the animal involved to discuss the case.
“If during their investigation the officer determines that the dog was seriously out of control in a public place and are satisfied that an offence has been committed, legal proceedings will be commenced.”
Reports of strays in the district were much more stark, with inner-city areas reporting far more numerous sightings of dogs at large.
City and Hunslet had the highest number of reports of strays in the city, with 21 reports, while Burmantofts and Richmond Hill (20); and Armley (19) were not far behind.
In comparison, rural, out-of-town areas such as Adel and Wharfedale; Calverley and Farsley; and Wetherby (all two), and Guiseley and Rawdon (one) suffer from fewer reports of strays.
The council stated that stray dogs should ideally be taken to the nearest vet to see if it is microchipped. Alternatively, a dog warden service is available from 8.30am-4.30pm on Monday to Friday.
Anyone wishing to report any dog-related concerns to Leeds City Council should visit https://www.leeds.gov.uk/residents/environmental-health for more information.
Responsible dog ownership
From July 2018, a new public space protection order was brought in to replace the old dig control orders. These orders require dog owners to:
- Pick up dog faeces left by a dog at all times.
- Carry a means to pick up after their dog, such as a poo bag or similar.
- Keep dogs on leads in designated areas. In Leeds this includes all roads, pavements and footpaths (including gated alleyways) next to carriageways, as well as cemeteries, crematoria, specialist public gardens and parks; and some council-owned golf courses.
- Put dogs on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer.
- Ensure dogs do not enter designated exclusion areas. Dog exclusion areas include children’s playgrounds, some sports courts, council-owned tennis courts, multi-use games areas, remembrance and wildlife gardens, and many school grounds.
- Limit the number of dogs walked to a maximum of four at a time. The exception to this rule is professional dog walkers which are allowed to walk up to six providing that they do not walk with or alongside any other dogs. A professional dog walker who did not comply with these conditions would be treated as an individual and could only walk 4 dogs.