Page last updated at 12:55 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 13:55 UK

Walking bans 'risk dog welfare'

Dog being walked
The Kennel Club says dog owners should check local rules

The Kennel Club says restrictions on where dog owners can walk their pets could have animal welfare implications.

The organisation says many councils in England and Wales are banning dogs from parks, open spaces and beaches, or forcing owners to keep them on leads.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has confirmed that more councils are making use of dog control orders.

But it says councils are acting in response to public demand, particularly from parents.

The Kennel Club says it has been inundated with complaints from dog walkers and has raised its concerns with councils and local MPs.

The club's communications director, Caroline Kisko, said: "Introducing dog control orders to exclude or keep dogs on leads in parks and open green spaces could have serious implications for animal welfare.

"Many dogs require vigorous exercise and their health could be compromised if they are not able to exercise off lead."

Failing to remove dog faeces
Not keeping a dog on a lead
Not putting, and keeping, a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer
Permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded
Taking more than a specified number of dogs onto land
Source: Defra

Dog control orders are one of the powers available to councils under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

Councils have to advise the public of plans to impose a control order by publishing an advertisement in the local press.

But the club said many dog owners were unlikely to see such a notice and could miss the consultation period.

It said they may only become aware of an order once signs have gone up at their local park or beach.

A spokesman for the LGA said councils were introducing more of the orders, usually as a result of parental pressure.

He said dog fouling, particularly in areas where children may be playing, provoked a large number of complaints to councils.

But he added: "Councils are not averse to the idea that there should be a right of appeal if responsible dog owners feel hard done by when a dog control order is put in place."

The maximum fine for breaching an order is £1,000 but councils are more likely to impose a fixed penalty fine.

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