Help Available To Local Authorities For Dog Control Measures

The Kennel Club, the UK’s largest dog welfare organisation, and the National Dog Wardens Association (NDWA) joined forces with around 40 local authorities in Birmingham yesterday (27th April) for a seminar dedicated to looking at local authorities’ approaches to dealing with dog related issues in the community.

Public Spaces Protection Orders, introduced under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, give power to local authorities to ban dogs from public areas, such as parks and beaches, or to require dog owners to keep their dogs on leads at all times in these areas. All previously introduced Dog Control Orders must be converted to Public Spaces Protection Orders by October 2017.

To help ensure any new or amended dog control laws are effective, proportionate and do not unnecessarily penalise users of public space, the Kennel Club ran the seminar to provide advice to local authorities on their use of dog-related PSPOs, and guidance on more effective solutions to dog related issues that would better benefit local people and the authorities themselves, which may already be under resourced.

The Kennel Club is the only organisation which monitors and responds to individual PSPO proposals through its KC Dog group, which works with local authorities to find suitable, more effective solutions to dog-related issues. KC Dog has seen examples of the unintended impact of restrictions on dogs that have been implemented ineffectively, which it hopes to help local authorities avoid. 

These include a backlash from local people – both dog owners and non-dog owners; restrictions that cannot be enforced; negative media attention; displacement of dog related issues onto other areas; and prevention of dog owners being able to give their dogs the exercise they need under the Animal Welfare Act, including off-lead exercise. The Kennel Club has produced a report to provide guidance and advice to local authorities on how these impacts can be avoided.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “We are keen to work with local authorities to ensure that any new or amended dog control laws are as sensible and effective as possible, and the seminar was organised to highlight how we can do this.

“Some local authorities currently have lots of restrictions on dog walking and some have very few.  Regardless of how dog friendly a local authority might be, we want to provide guidance and support on dealing with dog related issues and work with authorities to ensure fair outcomes for all. This includes helping to avoid unintended impacts of unnecessary restrictions which can cause a big headache for local authorities, particularly if they face a big public or media backlash.

“The Kennel Club has a number of resources to help local authorities and we can alleviate much of the burden on already over stretched councils if they are dealing with issues that involve local dog owners or walkers and seek advice or support from us.”

Sue Bell, President of the National Dog Wardens Association, said: “NDWA fully supports the need for a balanced approach to proportionate dog control and access to enable dog owners and non-dog owners alike to co-exist in the wider community.  NDWA also believes that Registered Assistance Dogs should be exempted from all forms of dog control and that local authority colleagues receive guidance in ensuring that they can access all areas.”

Gary Morton from Havant Borough Council, which proactively worked with the Kennel Club when introducing PSPOs, said: “It was excellent to hear how everyone else was going about introducing PSPOs and comforting to think that with Kennel Club support we seem to have got it right. The event itself was a great networking opportunity and I would encourage all local authorities to read the Kennel Club’s report, 'Out of Order', about the impact of access restrictions"

Jim Howard, who attended from Westminster City Council, said: "The seminar was very informative and made us look at things from a different perspective and think more seriously about how we implement rules relating to dogs"

KC Dog is the UK's largest dog owners group, which actively campaigns for any access restrictions for dog walkers to be fair and proportionate and aims to work with local authorities to find sensible solutions to dog-related problems.  Local authorities are encouraged to sign up to KC Dog to be kept abreast of access-related issues. 

Read more information the Kennel Club’s report on the impact of access restrictions on dogs and their owners.