Caerphilly Dog Owners Urged To Have Their Say On Proposed Restrictions

The UK's largest dog welfare organisation, the Kennel Club, is urging dog owners in Caerphilly to have their say on proposals which could restrict dog walking in the area and see responsible dog owners fined if they are not able to prove they have had 'means to pick up' whilst on a walk.

Caerphilly Council is seeking the views of the public in a dog access consultation it is running to determine the need for Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), which replaced Dog Control Orders under the Anti-social, Crime and Policing Act 2014. PSPOs can exclude anyone with dogs from certain areas, require that dogs are kept on leads at all times in certain areas, and result in fines for anyone with a dog who cannot prove they have the means to pick up after their dog. The council is also seeking views on dog fouling in the area.

The Kennel Club's campaign group, KC Dog, is alerting its members and local dog owners to the consultation to ensure that the outcome is as fair as possible for all parties.

Specific restrictions the council is consulting on include bans on dog walking on sporting and recreational fields, and restrictions on where dogs can be walked off lead. The Kennel Club believes that total bans for dogs on public open spaces must be necessary and proportionate and should only be used as a very last resort, as open spaces can be ideal for dogs to be exercised off lead, which is important for canine health and wellbeing.

Furthermore, the Kennel Club holds the view that any ban on dogs from public spaces should be based on evidence and only implemented if there is a genuine need, such as to safeguard certain wildlife that can be affected by dogs, or to protect the wellbeing of both people and dogs.

The Kennel Club is concerned about the proposal to require dog walkers to be able to produce a 'means to pick up' - namely a dog waste bag or similar receptacle. Whilst the Kennel Club supports proactive efforts on behalf of local authorities to encourage responsible dog ownership, this particular measure could see responsible owners being penalised unfairly.  Responsible owners who take dog waste bags on walks may be approached to prove their 'means to pick up' after they have used the bags to clean up their dog's waste, for example. The Kennel Club would therefore want to see a comprehensive awareness campaign being implemented in the area should this plan come into effect, to ensure dog owners are aware of the need to take an excess of dog waste bags with them when they go for a walk.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: "This is the perfect opportunity for dog owners in Caerphilly to have their say on the proposals so that the Council can make informed and fair decisions that will be best for all those who enjoy the local area.

"Some aspects of PSPOs, such as the requirement to pick up after a dog, are very sensible measures to help promote responsible dog ownership. However, making it a legal requirement for a dog owner to provide evidence of their 'means to pick up', when local authorities are already extremely under-resourced, is highly unlikely to have the effect that these local authorities are intending.

"Other aspects such as a ban on off-lead dog walking may not be welcomed by the many responsible dog owners in the area whose pets enjoy local public spaces without any issue.

"Dogs need a good deal of exercise, including off lead, so we would not want to see restrictions that have a negative effect on the amount of exercise responsible owners can give their pets."