It’s not often I get a bee in my bonnet but for the last few weeks it’s been there buzzing away… My issue is with dogs off the lead and I’m not talking about frolicking in the park, I’m talking about running along the pavement outside my house. I usually try to turn a blind eye but a few weeks ago Freya and I were at the bus stop when a big dog came up and put both his paws on her little shoulders. We both started screaming and eventually the owner arrived to pull him off her. It was terrifying and now Freya, who usually loves all animals (except snails but that’s another story) is terrified of dogs.
It would be okay if this incident was a one-off, but it really isn’t. It’s fairly usual to see dogs off the lead running ahead of their owners and this lunchtime I asked a man to put his dog on the lead. He told me in no uncertain terms to go away and that next time he would set his dog on me. Nice. When I reported all of this to the police I realised I didn’t know exactly where the law stood. I had assumed a dog roaming off the lead on a pavement by a busy road would be out and out wrong, but that’s not quite the case. And, with a two-year-old recovering from being mauled in Swindon and three separate dog attacks on children in June this is something every parent needs to know about. Here’s some information I picked up this afternoon:
- Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act states that it is an offence for a dog to be out of control in a public space. Out of control basically means either the dog has injured a person or acted in a way which makes the person believe they might be injured.
- Each local authority sets its own guidelines on whether and where dogs should be held on the leash. For instance, my local council, Lewisham, states that all dogs must be on a lead on all public footpaths and highways, nature reserves, cemeteries and crematoriums. It is an offence to refuse to put a dog on a lead when asked to by an officer in a park, garden or open space. Or to allow a dog to enter an area it isn’t allowed like play areas, fenced sports areas within parks, gardens and open space or any other dog exclusion zones. All dogs must also have a collar with the owner’s contact details inscribed on it.
Disclaimer: I love dogs and Freya does too…or at least the ones attached to a friendly owner!