I WAS encouraged to read Annemarie Field’s Out in the Field piece about the nuisance caused by dogs in our public places.
Imagine you have a lawn behind your house where you like to sit our for a picnic in fine weather, where your children or grandchildren play, chasing a ball, rolling on the grass.
Now, consider how you’d feel if people began coming into your garden, twice a day and allowing their dogs to urinate and defecate on the grass?
Would you feel any better if some of the people picked up their faeces and took it away? Or would you still feel you were being deprived of the proper enjoyment of your lawn?
Well, that’s the situation we’ve allowed to develop in Eastbourne’s parks and recreation grounds, public places intended to be enjoyed by all, young and old, but routinely used as toilets by a small but apparently growing army of dog owners.
Anyone using these spaces for other purposes will know that many owners do not take responsibility for their pet, but leave faeces on the grass to be spread far and wide when it’s mowed.
In 2007 our council had an opportunity to improve this situation when it introduced dog control orders under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act.
It could have required dogs should be kept on leads, but instead decided to let them run loose in most of public spaces including areas regularly used by sports clubs and language school students.
I know people’s dogs are important to them – why else would they organise their lives around another animal’s bowel movements? But cigarettes are important to smokers too and we eventually concluded smokers shouldn’t be allowed to pollute our environment.
I’m not proposing we can move immediately to the dog free situation which already exists in a London park but I do think our town should have a long-term reduction strategy.
A requirement that dogs should be on leads in public places would be a significant step in the right direction. At least then it would always be clear who is responsible for clearing up and there would no longer be any risk of harassment by boisterous or aggressive animals.
Wouldn’t it be good to see Eastbourne setting a nice example which I’m sure would be widely popular? Wouldn’t it be nice to sit on the grass and rest your back against a tree without wondering when it had last been used as a dog toilet?
Sancroft Road, Old Town