Dog control orders: Some good ideas!

Calderdale Council’s proposed dog control orders contain many commendable ideas including exclusions from playgrounds, skate parks, tennis courts and bowling greens.

The idea that dog wardens could require dogs to be put on leads when they cause a nuisance is also good. The expansion of current areas where people are required to pick up dog poo is sensible although exemption should be granted for dogs that poo in inaccessible areas such as rivers or under bramble bushes.

Some of the proposals are frankly an affront to the thousands of responsible dog walkers, who, like me, probably spend as much time picking up other people’s dog poo as their own. It seems that an urban model is being applied broad brush across the valley.

If you agree with any of my comments below please go online to http://www.calderdale.gov.uk/council/consultations/dog-control-orders/ . Please comment even if you are not a dog owner, support the good bits but please let’s not allow an urban agenda to drive dogs out of our rural towns and villages. Dogs are an important part of our rural lifestyle and heritage,

Requiring all dogs to be on lead on the towpath is barmy. Bear in mind that most of the towpath is rural and largely used only by ramblers, bargies, cyclists and dog walkers with mutual respect on all sides.

In busy areas, cyclists also pose a hazard and some cyclists are irresponsible, but we don’t expect all cyclists to dismount and walk along the tow path and nor should we. An idiot with a dog on a lead on the towpath can be more of a hazard to a cyclist than an idiot walking a dog off a lead.

Banning dogs from marked playing fields may be fine in Manor Heath Park where there are other open spaces for dog exercise, but in Calder Holmes Park, Brierley Fields, Old Town Park and many other parks the great majority of open space is marked as playing field. Yes prosecute people who don’t pick up their poo. There is no need to prevent responsible dog walkers from using these areas. Dog walkers pay Council Tax and deserve equal rights to open space.

A short list of football and soccer pitches where there is a significant problem and where alternative accessible dog exercise areas are available should of course be regulated and updated as needed. Bear in mind that it is mostly dog walkers that pick up the beer cans and broken glass left on our sports fields overnight in summer.

There is a proposal that dogs should be on leads in busy areas. It is claimed that when dogs are off lead it is difficult for wardens to identify who it belongs to.

I don’t think an easy life for wardens is a good reason to prosecute responsible dog walkers who pick up their poo and cause no nuisance – and prosecute they will when they see the potential income.

Again, a short-list of areas where there is the most significant risk should be produced.

As for requiring dogs on leads on highways (by which they mean roads with speed restrictions above 40 or 50), well that’s most of the roads on the tops.

The sheep grazing the A58 have less road sense than dogs, and yes they do poos too. Dog owners can decide if their dog is safe by a road or not without Council coming over all big brother about it.

When it comes to excluding dogs from church yards and graveyards, I say leave that to the local church to decide.

It would be good to see some recognition of the urban / rural split in the Council area. I bet most of my objections would hold up in rural areas but be more contentious in Halifax.

If the proposals go through unchallenged there will be insufficient easy access to flat open areas for elderly or infirm people to exercise their dogs off lead. If Council wants to legislate for more power, why not look into a process for banning irresponsible dog owners from owning dogs in Calderdale.

Chris Greaves

Lee Mill Rd, Wadsworth