New powers agreed to tackle nuisance dogs

Nottingham City Council’s Executive Board has approved new city-wide Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO) for Dogs, giving council officers extra powers to tackle the owners of nuisance dogs.

Most dog owners behave responsibly when they have their dog in public spaces. However, a small minority do not. The PSPOs reflect the behaviours that most responsible dog owners already exhibit, so this will not adversely impact upon them.

The PSPOs will provide Authorised Officers with additional powers to tackle those dog owners who behave irresponsibly. There have been 331 calls to the Police in 2015 regarding problems with animals – mainly dogs.

There was a public consultation (including more than 1000 face to face surveys undertaken by CPOs) that showed overwhelming support for the proposals.

The initial emphasis will be on education in all cases except dog fouling – where enforcement will remain key. Enforcement will only be necessary for the other issues where dog owners wilfully refuse to comply with the requests of Authorised Officers.

 There are five broad areas covered by the PSPOs:

  • Dogs to be kept on leads at all times on public highways. The focus for this is road safety, pedestrian safety and dog safety – to allow all to be able to use pavements/roads without potential problems caused by dogs off leads
  • Dogs can be exercised off lead in virtually all of the Council’s public parks and open spaces – but they need to be put back on lead if the owners are asked to do so by an Authorised Officer. This will only happen where the dog is seen to be causing a problem i.e. harassment to other users or damage to trees etc. However, the overall intention is that well behaved dogs can be exercised freely, off lead on our green spaces
  • Dogs will not be allowed in certain areas – including clearly demarcated children’s play areas, nature reserves and some sites of scientific interest. Play equipment in 23 children’s playgrounds has been damaged by dogs
  • Dog owners are still required to clean up after their dog has fouled. Dog fouling is consistently the most complained about issues in the city’s neighbourhoods
  • Dog owners will need to go equipped with the means to clear up after their dog when taking it for a walk. Catching dog owners who fail to clear up after their dog is extremely difficult and time consuming. Having the ability to challenge dog owners to see if they have the means to clean up will be a useful additional means of identifying those who have no intention of clearing up after their dog.

Portfolio Holder for Community Services, Councillor Nicola Heaton, said: “While most dog owners are responsible, some fail to keep their dogs under control, allow them to damage public property and fail to clear up their dogs’ mess.

“There are a number of playgrounds across the city where dogs have damaged play equipment, as well as damaging trees and street furniture in our parks. There are also many instances where other park users have been caused alarm and distress – and in some cases injury – by dogs that are off the lead and not under control.

“The purpose of the proposed orders – which expand on existing arrangements – is to tackle those causing this sort of anti-social behaviour by asking them to put their dogs on leads and clear up after them and fining them if they refuse. Responsible owners will not be affected by these proposals and dogs that are not causing a nuisance can continue to be let off their leads in these areas.”

 

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