Evening Chronicle, Monday 20th August. Feedback, page 20
As of Aug. 20th, strict new dog control laws will be enforced in Newcastle’s open spaces. If a dog is seen to be dangerously out of control or threatening, enforcement officers have been given powers to insist such dogs are leashed, with a fine of £75 for those not complying.
Local trainer Sue McCabe has spent years advocating for such a law and regularly tweets and blogs about the topic of out of control & bothersome dogs. ‘People have the right to enjoy open spaces with their families without being bothered, mugged or interfered with by off-leash out of control dogs’ she says. ‘I have many clients with fearful or reactive dogs who only ever walk their dogs on leash. Imagine the stress of having other off-leash dogs constantly running up to them? In extreme cases, some clients have stopped walking their dogs altogether because of this daily occurrence’.
The problem has become worse according to Sue, as dog ownership levels increase & multi-dog households become more common. ‘It seems that people use excuses such as ‘he’s just being friendly’, or ‘he just wants to say Hi’ as their dog jumps all over a member of the public or another dog who is minding their own business. The simple fact of the matter is that if your dog doesn’t have a reliable recall or it bothers people or other dogs while out and about, it should be on leash. We don’t allow our kids to randomly run up to strange people or dogs, we shouldn’t be allowing our dogs to do so either’.
The new law strikes a balance in that it punishes only those who haven’t taken the time to train their dogs to be good citizens. Unlike compulsory leash laws elsewhere, where all dogs must be kept on leash in public places or are banned altogether, this new law only applies if your dog is deemed to be out of control or acting in a threatening or dangerous manner. This gives a huge incentive to people to train their dogs properly and work towards having a pet which is well mannered & bothers no-one while out and about. This fact, Sue McCabe points out, would mean dogs were welcome in more places and be less reason for public complaint. ‘Surely a positive result for dog owners and non dog owners alike’.