As the new dog control orders come into play, here are some thoughts that the council could consider introducing at the same time!
Perhaps it would be worth the dog wardens who will be patrolling to ensure dog owners are compliant with the legislation, also having the powers to ask children to comply with certain requirements. Perhaps they should be expected to put their litter in bins and if the dog warden sees a dog owner not picking up after their dog or a child leaving litter, the same on the spot fine could be issued. Maybe they should have to treat play equipment appropriately and ensure that they don’t vandalise, spray graffiti or leave it so as others can’t use it - for example, swings should be left hanging on the full length of their chain, not wound round the top cross bar. Maybe the dog warden should be granted powers to ask parents to control their children appropriately and restrain them if necessary. Then, if a dog warden sees a dog behaving in a manner that indicates it should be put back on his lead, he could make the owner comply. By the same token, if he then saw a child or young person behaving in a manner indicating that some control should be exerted over him/her, the warden could make the same request to the parent without accusations of bias. It is my understanding that failure to comply with a dog warden request can result in fines of up to £1000. I am a dog owner - and parent - and I always clean up after my dogs and they always do as I ask them. If I call them to me, they come. If they are on a lead, they walk to heel. If I see people not cleaning up after their dogs, I go to them and give them a poop scoop bag as I’m sure they have simply forgotten theirs. Should the dog warden not be happy with me or my dogs then he has the right to speak with me and ask me to put them on a lead - despite the council not really yet having made clear what is acceptable off lead behaviour and what isn’t. How refreshing it would be if he could also ask children or young people to comply with acceptable codes of conduct or face a fine of £1000. Imagine being able to issue a fine of £1000 to parents for anti-social behaviour demonstrated by their off spring. Surely if dog owners are expected to control their animals, parents should be expected to control their children? Is it not against equality laws to fine one set of people but not another? There are designated areas in public parks where dogs can be if they are on a lead, cannot be at all and are allowed off lead to run and play. Are there any suggestions about how to handle the situation where children are playing not in the park areas where our dogs are expected to be either on a lead or not entering but rather, be running round the areas where our dogs are allowed to be? Is this the circumstance where a warden can ask a dog owner to put their dog on a lead, despite this being the designated run free area for dogs? Perhaps the council should bestow onto the dog warden the power to ask the children to play in the area designated dog free to allow the dogs to enjoy the limited areas now available to them. It is perhaps also worth a coat of thinking to consider bestowing powers onto the wardens to deal with those who use open areas for sport and then leave them strewn with white tape, food wrappers, pop bottles, cans etc. I am all for dog walkers behaving better and most certainly in favour of owners cleaning up deposits made by their dogs. I’d also like it if my dog didn’t bring me offerings he finds on sports fields left behind by players and spectators. These are just a few thoughts to start the ball rolling. Maybe the council are missing a trick by not taking a wider approach to these new orders - let’s widen the circle and increase the powers of the wardens to include all of these anti-social practices. After all, multi tasking is the way forward!