Dog owners facing stiffer penalties from new laws
DOG owners will be punished with fines of up to £1,000 if they fail to keep their pets on a lead – under new laws proposed by Mid Devon District Council.
Phoenix House chiefs will give staff the power to order people to put their dogs on leads in all public parks and on roads if they are showing aggression to others.
Owners of out-of-control animals will be given £80 fixed penalty notices and if they refuse to pay, court action will follow where fines of £1,000 could be imposed.
Paul Williams, head of environmental services for the authority, said similar orders would be adopted to combat the issue of dog-fouling.
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He said: "If a dog is out of control, at the moment nobody has the ability, apart from a police constable, to do anything about it.
"We are talking about an order and it applies to any open land which the public has right to access. The orders are to give enforcement abilities to be used appropriately.
"This is about controlling dog-fouling and those out of control and not on a lead in a public place," he added.
Taxpayers have been consulted on the Dogs on Lead by Direction (Mid Devon) Order 2012 and Fouling of Land by Dogs (Mid Devon) Order 2012, which are hoped will be in place by December.
A total of 88 per cent of respondents support the new orders to reduce fouling on public land, except on moorland and woodland, and 66 per cent said it was an issue where they lived.
All public gardens, parks, pleasure and recreation grounds, public car parks, highways, cemeteries, allotments, nature reserves and sites of scientific or geographical interest will be covered by the orders.
Dogs are already prohibited from enclosed play areas and Amory Park, People's Park, Westexe Recreation Ground and Wilcombe playing field, Tiverton, as well as Newcombe's Meadow, Crediton, will be areas where they must be walked on leads.
Concern was expressed at Thursday's meeting of Mid Devon's cabinet that the Grand Western Canal and People's Park areas in Tiverton were blighted by careless owners and their pets.
Cllr Paul Williams, Tiverton, said: "Some people think a dog can run 200m in front out of sight and many do complain about that, and it is something we need to look at.
"Only recently somebody complained about an Alsatian running in People's Park not on a lead on a Saturday, and it was attacking dogs which were on leads.
"Dog owners have got to be responsible and some of them are not and they are the ones causing the grief for all of the others.
"They are not above the law," he added.
The meeting was held only a few weeks after a Lime Kiln Road resident's cat was put down because of the extent of injuries suffered in an attack by a dog which was being walked on the canal towpath.
The council has decided to carry out further work to see if the laws can be applied to other areas after Cllr Clive Eginton raised concerns that school fields were also blighted by dogs' mess.
"If we are not including school recreation grounds, we are missing a trick here," he said.