‘Woof’ justice for owners

PET owners could find themselves in the doghouse when it comes to places to walk their canine friends if new, stronger controls are introduced.

Fenland Council is currently consulting on new measures it hopes will help counter dog fouling and ensure that unruly pets are kept under proper control.

The controls are aimed at protecting all Fenland Council’s parks and open spaces making some ‘no-go’ areas for dogs.

March dog owner Pat Winfield claims the rules are punishing the majority because of an irresponsible minority, who fail to clear up after their pets or keep them under control when out for walks.

She believes residents in the north of March will be left with practically nowhere to walk their dogs and fears responsible owners could even fall foul of the new rules and facing fines of £75 as a consequence.

“I have looked into the proposals and as far as I can see the north end of March will be left with one fifth of the area it used to have for dog walkers. There has already been a massive shrinkage in the areas where we can walk our dogs and this is going to reduce it further,” she said.

Mrs Winfield, who owns two Golden Retrievers, fears the new rules will particularly affect people walking their dogs on the field off the Robingoodfellows Lane play area.

She explained the play area and the field are separated by an insecure hedge and fears that pets running through the hedge could land their owners in trouble for breaking the ‘no dogs’ in play areas rule.

“I understand no one wants to see children falling in dog mess, or being pestered by unruly dogs, but even the best behaved dogs occasionally run off, especially if they are lured through by children wanting to play with them and make a fuss,” she said.

Councillor Peter Murphy, Fenland’s portfolio holder responsible for the environment, said: “We receive about 800 reports each year of dog-related problems. Most dog owners are very responsible - they look after their pets properly and don’t let them spoil everyone else’s enjoyment of our open spaces.

 “But a small minority don’t and it is something that upsets a lot of people, particularly those with young children. These proposals will help to tackle the issues.”

Details on the proposals can be found at www.fenland.gov.uk/dog-control, together with maps of specific sites where the controls will apply.

Consultation ends on August 22. To comment, go online  at www.fenland.gov.uk/dog-control, e-mail dogcontrolconsultation@fenland.gov.uk, or visit your local Fenland @ your service shop.