Kennel Club Leads Fight Against Buckinghamshire Dog Bans

The UK's largest organisation dedicated to dog welfare, the Kennel Club, is urging dog owners in South Bucks and the Slough area to have their say on overly restrictive dog control orders being proposed by the City of London Corporation, which could drive out dog walkers from Burnham Beeches, and see them forced to walk their dogs elsewhere.

The area is currently enjoyed by thousands of responsible dog walkers who rely on the open space to give their dogs proper exercise, but proposals put forward by the City of London Corporation would mean that dogs would be banned all year round from being exercised off lead on 59 per cent of the land at Burnham Beeches.  There are also fears that the areas left designated for off-lead access may not be safe for dogs and their owners, with unsuitable terrain and free-grazing livestock being kept there.

Other control orders have been proposed which would limit the number of dogs one person can walk at a time to four, two less than advised by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, ban dogs completely from a specific area, and introduce a dogs on lead by direction order, which gives an authorised officer the right to ask for a dog to be put on a lead, and a dog fouling order.

The restrictions being proposed by the City of London Corporation are far more restrictive than has been introduced anywhere else in the UK, and the Kennel Club is concerned that imposing these unnecessary restrictions will only serve to displace dog walkers; forcing them to walk their dogs in smaller, more concentrated areas, which could cause a range of additional problems elsewhere.

The Burnham Beeches consultation will run until 14th July. More information on the proposals, as well as the Kennel Club's briefing on the issue and details on how to respond to the consultation can be found at   Visitors to Burnham Beeches can view the proposals on the notice boards at Burnham Beeches office, Hawthorn Lane, Farnham Common, SL2 3TE, between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: "Despite repeated efforts to work with the City of London Corporation on a constructive solution that is fair to all regarding dog walker access to Burnham Beeches, they have repeatedly ignored our advice and have gone with a far too heavy-handed approach, one that is not even supported by Natural England, the government's advisor on the natural environment.

"Banning off-lead exercise from such a large area is potentially putting the welfare of dogs at risk unless a suitable area is provided in its place, as dogs do need regular off lead exercise to stay fit and healthy.  The area that will remain for off-lead access is not particularly safe, with unsuitable terrain which is likely to cause problems for the many older dog walkers as well as disabled users of the land, and livestock is left to graze freely in the area.  At a time when there is so much national effort being made to have dogs on leads around livestock to reduce both animal and human fatalities, it seems odd that the City of London Corporation have made the decision to use this area to allow off lead exercise .

"Placing such drastic restrictions onto one area will only serve to marginalise dog walkers and force them into other, less suitable areas, such as recreation grounds and playing fields.

"The Kennel Club supports certain aspects of the proposals, including encouraging people to pick up after their dogs, but the restrictions that are being proposed in Burnham Beeches in relation to dogs on leads are more extensive and restrictive than any other dog control orders, national law or local byelaw in the UK that we have seen, many of which are on sites with a much higher level of nature conservation designation than Burnham Beeches.

"We would recommend that anyone who uses the area to walk their dogs has their say on the proposed restrictions by responding to the City of London Corporation's consultation."

Lorraine Gibbons, who lives in Slough and walks her four dogs at Burnham Beeches every day, said: "I walk four very well trained dogs here every day, one of which is blind, and it would be very difficult for me and many other dog walkers who use this area to give our dogs proper off-lead exercise in a safe environment if we could not use the land as we can now.

"Coming here every day I see a number of disabled dog owners and elderly dog owners, whose trips to Burnham Beeches are often the only social activity they have, and it is unrealistic to expect them to travel miles to other suitably large open areas for their dogs to get off-lead exercise, not to mention the environmental impact it may have from the extra cars on the road.

"The vast majority of dog walkers in the area are very responsible, and appreciate the natural beauty of the Beeches, respect the wildlife, pick up after their dogs and don't drop litter, so the restrictions seem far too excessive."

In 2008 the Kennel Club, Natural England and Hampshire County Council commissioned research, carried out by Sheffield Hallam University, which found that off-lead provision is the single most important influence when dog owners decide where to walk with their dog.

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