. . . as the most dog-unfriendly council in Devon.
In recent years, Torbay has developed a reputation as council that is unfriendly to dogs with an obscene poster campaign and widespread banning of dogs from beaches. Now Torridge District Council is consulting to introduce draconian dog control measures.
There are problems with dogs that have to be addressed, such as some owners not clearing up after their dogs. There are also dangerous dogs kept as trophies and weapons by unscrupulous owners.
The problem with councils’ approach to these problems is that they penalise responsible dog owners and are cruel to dogs.
I say cruel to dogs, because by limiting the number of places where dogs can exercise freely off the lead, they will add to frustration and mental health problems with dogs and other disorders due to lack of exercise. In fact, by limiting where dogs can be exercised off the lead, they are likely to increase the problems of aggressive and ill dogs. I regard that as cruelty and I believe that it is an issue the RSPCA should take up.
Nobody likes dog mess, but councils take the easy route of saying it can cause disease. Councils put up notices outside children’s play areas warning of the risk of catching disease from dogs’ faeces. When Torbay Council published their obscene poster in 2009, I asked them about the instances of disease occurring. They couldn’t answer and pointed me in the direction of the NHS.
I wondered how much disease we can catch from human contact and, while I couldn’t find much, did find research indicating that one in four commuters surveyed had faecal bacteria on their hands. While I always wash my hands before cooking or eating due to us having dogs, I now wash my hands as soon as I come home from meeting people. Dogs are cleaner than humans.
As well as putting up signs about catching diseases from dogs, if councils were really concerned about children’s health they would erect signs reminding people to wash their hands before entering children’s play areas or touching equipment.
Critics could say that Torridge District Council’s control orders will not be used all the time, but it is still dangerous to give them that power. And it is a foregone conclusion that owners who do not clear up after or control their dogs will ignore these orders, while responsible owners and their dogs will suffer.
I have suggestions to solve some of the problems. Legislate to ensure all dogs are microchipped and let dog wardens use readers to identify dogs so that their owners can be prosecuted when they do not clear up or if their dog is aggressive or causes a nuisance. Trophy dogs trained to be deliberately aggressive are a danger to other dogs and I believe the police should be able to deal with this to make it safe for dogs and people.
Dogs do not have a choice where they live. We domesticated them and they have to live how we decide. When properly trained and exercised, dogs do not cause problems. My dogs do not pester people. I use my judgement to decide when to put my dogs on the lead. Usually this is to protect my dogs.
There is nothing more wonderful than watching a dog run freely on the beach. Why shouldn’t they? They leave the beach in a much cleaner state than humans who leave hot disposable barbecues, used condoms (yuck), discarded needles, food, broken glass and sharp tins. Councils could prevent this by banning people from parks and beaches.
Click to comment on Torridge District Council’s draconian dog control measures before 19 May 2011.