Earlier today Sir Oliver Heald QC MP visited dog friendly coffee shop Hogg’s Cafe in Royston, Herts with a Kennel Club representative to talk about the work of KC Dog.
KC Dog is the UK's largest dog owners group, which actively campaigns against unreasonable access restrictions for dog walkers and which aims to work with local authorities to support the benefits of dog ownership while minimising any negative impacts. Restrictions that are overly harsh on dogs can have a negative impact on businesses in the area as it means the dog walkers could be put off visiting.
Normally, regulations for dog owners are issued as Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO) as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act, which allow councils greater flexibility to implement restrictions which may be unfair on dog walkers. Previously, local authorities were able to issue Dog Control Orders (DCO) – which were tightly defined under one or more of the following orders: dog fouling; limiting the number of dogs a person could walk; keeping dogs on leads in certain areas; keeping dogs on leads by direction; and excluding dogs from defined areas.
East Herts Council has already switched to the PSPO system including a ‘means to pick up’ order, whilst North Hertfordshire Council currently still has Dog Control Orders in place. However these DCOs must be replaced with PSPOs by the end of 2017, which may open the door to much greater restrictions on dog walkers.
With over 9 million dogs in the UK, and around one in four households owning a dog, the great British public need places they can safely exercise their pets, and Sir Oliver’s visit to Hogg’s Cafe highlighted this.
Speaking during his visit, Sir Oliver said: “Royston is a wonderful town for dog owners, as we have the vast expanse of Royston Heath on our doorstep. I know that when my own dog Soda was alive, she enjoyed socialising with other dogs during our walks. We are also fortunate to have dog-friendly cafes, such as Hogg’s, which mean that our dogs can be part of our everyday lives.”
Being in a dog friendly constituency benefits dog friendly businesses like Hogg’s Café as it means that dog walkers can drop in and not have to leave their dogs tied up outside, at risk of theft, or in their cars, which can be fatal on summer days.