The Kennel Club is urging local councils to do more to help dog walkers stay safe and responsible during the current lockdown period and ensure they can adhere to the social distancing measures following the passage of emergency Government legislation, which restricts people from leaving their homes other than for essential activities including taking daily exercise.
The latest government advice on accessing green spaces requires people, including dog walkers, to ‘stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible [and to] not travel unnecessarily’. Yet many Public Spaces Protection Orders put in place by councils across England and Wales restrict dog walkers from many local open spaces such as parks, beaches and publicly-owned sports pitches.
Holly Conway, Head of Public Affairs at the Kennel Club, said: “Such long-standing restrictions would have been consulted on and in many cases been considered reasonable in normal circumstances, as there would be alternative options for dog walking further from home, as well as a need for some areas of parks and beaches to be dog free, for example when there are football matches regularly taking place, and when beaches are busy with families in the spring and summer months.
“During this unprecedented period of lockdown however, these local areas cannot be used for sports and other public gatherings, but still remain out of bounds for responsible local dog walkers who are social distancing. For dog owners, it is essential for maintaining both human and canine health and well-being that they can continue to walk their dogs each day close to home. It is equally imperative that dog walkers follow government advice of keeping at least two metres from other people, and so temporarily relaxing current restrictions on where dog walkers can go will help achieve this.”
As such, the Kennel Club has written to local council leaders urging them to temporarily relax long-standing restrictions on dog walking in order to provide more available space for people to socially distance and significantly minimise, or even eradicate, the need to drive each day to find quieter places to walk their pets. This can be readily done without the need for any legal paperwork, simply by local councils giving temporary permission for certain dog walking rules to be ignored, and then stating this on their websites and social media.