Dog Control Orders have been implemented nationwide due to the above legislation introduced by the previous Government. DCOs have been implemented in an arbitrary fashion with extreme variations in areas so that some areas of the country have only one or two elements of the orders imposed yet other areas have whole gamuts of the orders (ie ban, on lead, on lead by request, restricted numbers to be walked etc.) throughout an area. This has resulted in some areas having an excessive number of restrictions being placed on dog owners as to where dogs can actually be exercised which is important for their health wellbeing, and more importantly to help socialise them and make them better integrated into society. It also puts undue pressure on those elderly or with mobility problems who local easily accessible areas for exercise withdrawn from them. The cost of implementing dog control orders is expensive, requiring in my area alone £40,000 to be spent on signage alone (ie taking an old sign which says Dogs on Lead down to put a new sign saying Dogs on Lead up) because new legislation has been passed. There is also additional manpower costs to be taken into account which has not been quantified. In view of public spending cuts this seems ridiculous. Existing bye-laws for dogs on lead by the highway and no fouling in public areas were ALREADY in place before the introduction of DCOs. Therefore it is an expensive and unnecessary piece of legislation which actually does nothing to promote responsible dog ownership but merely penalises the majority of ordinary dog owners and curtails their civil liberties.
I suggest reverting to the original bye-law system which worked perfectly well but asking Councils to encourage responsible dog owner groups in their areas and support them with access to training sessions to combat any dog issues in public areas. I would support a dog ownership test and license/registration if this were felt necessary if the money from this were ring fenced into tackling issues to pursue and prosecute those who breed dogs for fighting or using dogs as weapons within a gang culture. I would prefer the dog wardens to concentrate on serious issues like this, and animal cruelty/abuse than have to spend their time persecuting ordinary dog owners who just want to exercise their dogs.
On the issue of civil liberties, parks and open spaces are supposed to be there for all, dog owners pay their taxes like everyone else and should not be banned or restricted from using them. They should be expected to adhere to acceptable control of their animals, as I would expect parents to adhere to acceptable levels of control of their children. Our parks here suffer more abuse from anti social behaviour by children than dogs, but I see no suggestion of child control orders.
Repeal this section of the act and look at it again, in conjunction with dog owners to find a more effective way to encourage owner responsibility without infringing civil liberties or using public funds in such a cavalier manner.
Why does this idea matter?
Dog owners pay their taxes and have a right to use public places.
The existing legislation is being abused by some council areas who have applied excessive dog control orders without sufficient thought or consultation.
There are civil liberty implications.
There are funding implications for local authorities who are faced with extreme cuts in service – scrapping DCOs and sticking with the original bye-law system would save money and may save jobs.
The best way to encourage responsible dog ownership is not by this piece of bad legislation,