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Should dogs be kept on a lead in public places?

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Everyone who uses canal towpaths and cycle tracks in the Stroud district is being asked for their views on keeping dogs on leads.

Stroud District Council wants the public’s views on a proposed change which would mean dogs would still have to be under control but not necessarily on a lead in these two areas.

Since 2017, Stroud District Council has used four Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) to assist in control of dogs. These PSPOs must be reviewed every three years and, as part of that review, a public consultation is to be carried out.

Currently, the four PSPOs require dog owners to:

  • Pick up dog faeces
  • Put dogs on leads when directed to do so by an officer
  • Keep dogs out of areas signed as exclusion areas, e.g. children’s play areas
  • Keep dogs on leads in designated areas such as allotments, cemeteries, car parks, canal towpaths and designated cycle tracks.

Stroud District Council proposes to extend the use of PSPOs for a further three years, the maximum period allowed, from October 2023.

It is proposed to leave the first three orders unchanged but to make one change to the fourth order by removing canal towpaths and designated cycle tracks from the designated areas.

This amendment stems from enforcement experience which has highlighted a very strong perceived unfairness among dog owners in respect of having to put dogs on leads in what are regarded as “shared spaces”, particularly when they feel that their dogs are under control.

Exercising off the lead is accepted as an important benefit for dogs and the requirement for dogs to be on leads on a cycle track or towpath provided for leisure and recreation is perceived as disproportionately prohibitive.

Serious uncontrolled behaviour, where identified, could still be addressed by other means, for example by utilising the order directing that dogs be put on a lead. This, allied to the fact that few complaints are received in this regard, appears to represent a proportionate and targeted approach to the issue.

Environment Committee Chair Chloe Turner said: “We hope that the proposed retention of orders to address dog fouling, to give officers the power to direct that dogs be put on leads and to exclude dogs from signed areas represents a relatively uncontroversial, common-sense approach to these issues.”

Vice chair Robin Drury-Layfield added: “The proposed changes to the `dogs on leads’ order is likely to generate a wide range of responses and it’s important that we get to hear from as many people as possible. Please do take the time to respond to the formal consultation when it comes out, so that your views are considered alongside everyone else’s.”

The consultation period will end on 18th August 2023 and full details on how to respond via e-mail or letter are at www.stroud.gov.uk/PSPOs

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