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Proposed Dog Control Orders

From Dave J

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Whilst this will no doubt please some and not others, the dog-owners amongst us are likely to be interested in the under-publicised Dog Control Order that Calderdale Council is planning to introduce.

Whilst it is reasonable to insist dogs are kept away from sports pitches and playgrounds, the council plans to ban all dogs from canal paths and Hardcastle Crags (amongst many other places) unless they are on leads at all times.

The full proposal is on their website with a link to contribute to the debate. Sounds like a done-deal to me though.

From Lizzie D

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

I am sure that there are indeed many responsible dog owners aound but do you all honestly pick up every little bit of dog s**t that your pet leaves behind? Being a great one for sitting and watching the world go by, I often see people glance around to see if anyone has noticed that Fido has done one before they either kick it (the poo not the dog) into the gutter, or pretend they didnt see it.

That stuff is dirty, dangerous and looks and smells bad too. Maybe dog owners should be obliged to have a garden to toilet train their pets in before thay are allowed to own one? Then when they take them out on a lead at least they aren't going to deposit anywhere else? And as for keeping them on leads in public spaces why not? I dont want my ankles nipping or risk being knocked off my feet by loose strange dogs - who are inevitably followed by a red faced puffing owner, shouting 'its ok he doesn't bite'. I can choose dog free beaches to walk on and to take my grandchildren on, why shouldn't I also be able to choose dog free parks and woodland?

From Paul Coleman

Thursday, 6 October 2011

May I suggest that people actually read the full proposal documents on the council website before jumping to conclusions.

My reading is that dogs won't be required to be kept on leads at all times in the crags, but they may be required to be put on a lead by order of a council official.

The proposal is quite complex and includes a number of measures applied differently in different areas. It looks to me like a good effort by the council to tackle the problem in a non simplistic way.

I do take issue with some parts, specifically the blanket order to keep dogs on leads on the towpath and other areas of mixed traffic. I have responded to the consultation raising my concerns.


From Megan H

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Why is it so difficult for people to believe that responsible dog owners do pick up every bit of their dogs mess?

Believe me we do, it us so unfair that every dog owner gets tarred with the same brush as the ones who are irresponsible.

I can also assure you that we would not be kicking poo into the gutter either?!? I for one would prefer not walk around with shoes that stink?!?


From Paul D

Thursday, 6 October 2011

One interesting omission from all the detail is the total failure of the local authority to enforce the existing fixed penalties that are supposed to prevent dogs fouling public space. One would think they had no responsibilities for enforcement when in fact by default they've allowed the current (unacceptable) situation to develop. What we have is a suggested solution to a problem caused by a small minority of irresponsible pet owners who have probably never being challenged or punished for their irresponsible behaviour. A solution that will prevent the majority of responsible dog owners doing what they now do responsibly. In other words, Calderdale has let a situation develop where fouling goes unpunished, it first extracts itself from any blame and then looks to punish the responsible dog owning population.

I don't like playing hopscotch over fresh piles of poo on the towpath or seeing dog dirt on the park where children play, but I also walk past signs threatening fines and other sanctions that are never enforced. This lack of enforcement is compounded by Calderdale's retreat from taking responsibility for public space; when was the last time you saw a dog warden for example? Its retreat from Calder Holmes includes allowing the bowling green to degenerate beyond repair, the putting green to be abandoned, the tennis courts to be ruined ? but oh we got a graffiti wall and some concrete bumps. Does anyone seriously think that an authority so desperate to renege on its responsibilities to protect and enhance public space is going to actually enforce this wish list of sanctions? The irresponsible will continue to be so and the responsible could be marginalised and deemed guilty by association.

My own preference for dogs is that they earn their keep, but I've never been bitten in Hebden Bridge, I regularly meet friendly owners out walking their pets and most seem to have adopted a strategy to deal with any poo. A lot of time and expense could be saved just by enforcing exiting bylaws, but perhaps that's too simple a solution, or would require those supposed to enforce them getting off their backsides and doing so, instead of developing ever more expensive shiny new strategies to deal with their own incompetence. To be honest these people just need to get out more and do what they're paid for, get on top of public space and get off the backs of responsible dog owners.

From Jenny B

Friday, 7 October 2011

I agree with Paul that if the council did their job properly in the first place this whole issue might not have grown like Topsy. But, I also don't see what the problem is in keeping dogs on a lead in areas where there are lots of people. I don't think there is any reason why dogs should be allowed on parks/football pitches etc.

If you don't live in an area with open spaces where you can freely exercise them then why get a dog? As for the minority of irresponsible dog owners, all I can say is they must all exercise their pets on the stubbing wharf to post office towpath. Because it really is a daily game of dodge the dog turd on there. Clearly those who dont want 'smelly shoes' by at least kicking the stuff into the canal or grass verge, don't mind my children getting theirs very smelly when they have trampled through it.

From Andy M

Friday, 7 October 2011

I always pick up after my dog - unless in the middle of a wood away from a footpath perhaps - but always in public spaces. However, a significant proportion of owners don't and it's not surprising at all that dog owners have a negative image. Dogs on a lead on a towpaths is a good idea since there just physically isn't enough space for them but that won't stop lazy, anti-social owners not picking up after their pets.

I think I get more annoyed now as an owner about fouling than I did as a non-owner but it's surprising, given the amount of sh*** about, how often you don't see the culprits. I've mused on putting the stocks in Heptonstall to good use for miscreants but that would be anti-social I suppose!


From Megan H

Friday, 7 October 2011

Jenny I think you have missed my point. I dont think it is acceptable at all to kick the dog mess into the canal or onto the grass verge or anywhere, it should be picked up full stop.

The whole point is that no these people do not care about your childrens shoes, my childrens shoes, or anyone else but themselves!

However this irritates responsible dog owners as much (if not more) as it does non-dog owners.

I live just down the road from the stubbing and use the canal regularly I know how bad it is. I see people not clearing up after their dogs, but if I can see this with my own eyes why cant the council do something about it? it is an offence! I have had so many problems with this where I live and have even sent photos of the dogs responsible and given the names and addresses of the owners - Still nothing is done.

What irritates me about this is that if the regulations are brought in I will abide by them as I do now. The people who dont abide by the laws now still wont when these regulations are brought in and Calderdale council will still do nothing. The only people who lose out are the ones who act responsibly in the first place!


From Richard M

Saturday 8 October

What is interesting about the dog control debate is what the council has left out of the information it has given out. First off, you would think they would want to know what has happened in other areas that these controls have been introduced.

Manchester (introduced DCOs 2007), Bristol (2007) and Greenwich (2008) have all seen an increase in fouling complaints since they brought in controls (if anyone wants references for this, I'll be happy to supply them). Why? Basically, legislation doesn't make a blind bit of difference. The only way to solve this problem is education and enforcement. Calderdale is pathetic on both counts. They rely on the "No such thing as the dog poo fairy" posters from Keep Britain Tidy for "education" whereas Bristol has (in its desparation) produced a hard hitting and imaginative campaign of its own.

On the enforcement side, guess how many dog fouling penalties they issued in 2009? Seven!! They are talking about "55 newly empowered officers" but these are not new employees. These are people who already do important jobs for the council and they will only spend about 10% of their time on dog control. So why are Calderdale trying to bring this in? It's all about giving the impression of doing something. They know it will have little effect: they just want people to stop complaining.

Oh, and don't believe the statistics they are quoting either. In their press release on Sept 12th they inflated the number of dangerous dog complaints by 6-fold!

From Andy M

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

I'd expect a rise in recorded complaints once a DCO is in place?

What counts is if the net amount of dog fouling decreases.

From Liz M

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Imagine. You see yourself as a considerate and 'responsible dog owner'. When your dog empties its bowels, you carefully scoop up every last bit into a specially designed, pretend-biodegradable, doggy mess bag that you brought, and bought. You tie a knot in the bag and then, maybe when no-one's looking, you chuck it behind a bush or even nudge it carefully into a nook in a wall, as if you're hiding an Easter egg. You carry on with your walk leaving no bad smells.

Can someone please explain this behaviour?

The tow path is full of these packages of poo, which will take years longer to decompose (as we're all kidding ourselves about biodegradable plastic, apparently) increasing the length of time they are dangerous for children and disgusting for everyone. Why can't these dog owners complete the action they began so responsibly by actually taking the bag home with them and putting it in their bin?

Isn't it a bit like this type of pointless legislation by the Council? They can be seen to be doing something responsible but, in effect, it's a cover up for the fact that there is a complete lack of follow through on the main action i.e. giving proper penalties to those dog-owners who are not socially or environmentally considerate.


From Graham Barker

Thursday, 13 October 2011

In answer to Liz, the rationale is that you leave the bag somewhere to pick up on the return leg of the walk. I know because I've done it myself, to avoid having to walk miles brandishing a bag of poo.

But you have of course to come back and retrieve it, which many owners obviously don't. There are now so many bags lying uncollected that all I can think is that those who abandoned them are either very forgetful, or crafty enough to give the appearance of picking up after the dog while not actually giving a damn - which is a bit odd, as the unpleasant part is over once you've bagged the stuff.

Either way, I agree that it's an annoying and highly irresponsible habit.


From Andy M

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Maybe there's a lot of lost dog walkers out there!

I say we mount a campaign to find them and reunite them with their poo!

From Richard M

Saturday, 15 October 2011

To answer a previous post: would you expect complaints to go up when DCOs are introduced? Well, certainly the publicity concerning DCOs might heighten public awareness. However, if the DCOs are in themselves a solution to the problem, forcing irresponsible owners to change their behaviour, then the amount of poo, and hence complaints should go down. That, of course, will only happen if the Council concerned is serious about enforcement and educating owners.

N. Lincs. Council brought in DCOs in 2008 and its chief environmental officer received plaudits for his approach on the issue - he got invited to do a Keep Britain Tidy "master class" on tackling dog fouling. Of course this year, when the local paper revealed his team hadn't issued any fixed penalties for dog fouling for the last two years, he looked a little foolish.

The sad truth is that legislation will not solve this issue. If Calderdale really wanted to tackle the problem they could do so by increased enforcement under the existing legislation. The money that is being spent on this consultation and that will be needed for new signs should have been spent on more bodies patrolling parks and more publicity. Of course, given the Council is cutting jobs by 5% this year, it is hard to see where those people would come from whether they be enforcing the old or the proposed legislation.

From Chris G

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Why should dogs be allowed to run on the field at Calder Park?

When walking dogs round this circuit the best thing to do is walk round the outside, throw a ball into the middle (when its not busy) and the dogs stay off the path away from kids learning to ride bikes. Yes you must go and pick up the poo. Dogs on leads on this path and along towpaths are more of a hazard to cyclsts because of the risk of the lead tangling with a bike.

Responsible dog owners know their dog and where they it is sensible for them to be off or on- lead. I have one dog off lead and one on lead at many locations.

Yes there are some irresponsible dog owners who should be banned from owning dogs. Council should pursue this option.

Council should vigorously prosecute those who don't pick up their poo. I am very bored of picking up other peoples dog poo - yes it is mostly dog walkers who do this (we have the bag in our pocket after all).

It is well established that if dogs are not exercised off lead they are more likely to become aggressive to other dogs and people. This is because so much of their language depends on how they position themselves.

By all means, the ornamental gardens should be on-lead and dogs should be banned from playgrounds, bowling greens, skateparks, 5 a-side areas, tennis courts and cricket squares.

The park in Old Town is used 5 times a year for fixtures. The Headteacher of the school who's team plays there does not think a ban is sensible. Why should dogs be banned there.

Think about the many miles of towpath that are not in a town. Why should I have to put my dog on a lead if I can't see anyone else for miles.

There are irresponsible cyclists in parks and on towpaths. We don't insist that all cyclists dismount in parks and on towpaths.

Some irresponsible people leave cans and broken bottles in the parks overnight. Dog walkers and other folk pick this up in the mornings. We don't ban people from the park after dark.

These proposals are designed with urban areas in mind. They should not be applied broad brush across the valley.

Elderly and infirm dog walkers and dogs need easy access to flat open space for off lead exercise. Why persecute these people and dogs who far outnumber the antisocial element who should be banned from owning dogs (legislation empowering Council to do this is currently progressing well through the house of lords).

I think it is a shame that the consultation has included all the possible options as though they are the prefered proposal as this is causing anxiety and disharmony especially in rural communities.

Please report people who don't pick up their poo or who's dog causes a nuisance. Once these people start doing the right thing is there really a good reason to stop me giving my crippled dog the treat of some off-lead time on the playing field. I pick up my dog's poo and some of the poo that antisocials leave behind too. I pay my Council tax and would like fair access to open land if I pick up my and prevent my dogs from causing a nuisance. Please don't persecute me.

If things go through unchanged, we may need a campaign to remove the soccer pitch from Calder Park so that dog walkers can have access again. How silly would that be?


From Bernard B

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Chris G is wrong that dogs on leads get caught in bicycle wheels - it's dogs off the lead that are the major problem. Basically the owner stands to one side to let the cyclist pass but does nothing to control the dog. Either it is allowed to amble around oblivious and free until it causes an accident, or at the last minute the owner yanks the dog in by the scruff but leaves its arse and tail sticking out. If the Council intends to make it compulsory to have dogs on leads along roadsides (where the dog would most likely come off worst) they should also make it compulsory to have dogs on leads on cyclepaths.

From Myra James

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Bernard, I think I disagree about dogs on cycle paths. As a regular cyclist on the cycleway between HB and Mytholmroyd, I find most dog owners are extremely considerate when a bike approaches and do their best to make sure their dog isn't in the way. Occasionally though, a dog wanders about in a less than helpful fashion - in which case I'm afraid one simply has to slow right down or even stop. Feet before wheels every time on a shared path - especially when there are four of them!

From Graham Barker

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Would it be too much to ask cyclists to slow right down when they meet someone - adult, child or animal - sharing 'their' space? I recently walked the towpath from Hebden to Tod and took deliberate note of the number of cyclists who gave warning of their approach or slowed down. Of 22 cyclists who overtook me, precisely six rang a bell or slowed down to a safe speed. Of those coming towards me, rather more than half slowed down and thanked me for stepping aside. The rest just blasted past as though I didn't exist.

Given the inconsiderate behaviour of so many cyclists, it's rather rich of them to complain about dogs, whether on or off a lead.

From Myra James

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Graham, we seem to be in agreement. The road is the better place for cyclists in a hurry. By the way, in my earlier post when I said "especially when there are four" I was referring to feet not wheels!

From Richard Prince

Sunday, 23 October 2011

An earlier post suggested a petition to get rid of the football pitch in the park. What an excellent idea! The pitch is currently used, so I am told, by three teams. That must add up to around 70 people tops. They use it for 2 days a week and pay a fee that the Council subsidises to the tune of 30% (I have FOI figures on that).

Because of this, the >1000 dog owners in Hebden will be kicked out of the park, or at best, relegated to the strip of land between the pitch and the river. It doesn't really seem fair to me, especially given the impact it will have on older and disabled dog owners.

There are plenty of other pitches around and the Council should be making economies of scale where possible and concentrating on its bigger pitch facilities like Savile Park. Footballers, pretty much by definition, are a lot more mobile than the elderly and disabled - just like it used to be on the buses, the football fraternity in Calder Holmes should give up their "seat" to those who need it more.

From Bernard B

Monday, 24 October 2011

Myra, Graham, pardon me for riding a bicycle on a cycleway. You caricature the wrong cyclist - I slow for pedestrians I have a bell on my bike. However slowly I ride, however effusively I thank pedestrians simply for being, this does not change the fact that a fair proportion of people don't think to control their dogs properly and are not considerate of other cyclepath users.

As per my original post, the owners get themselves to the side okay but forget about the mutt. Maybe you would advise pedestrians deliberately to obstruct cyclists in order that their dogs can meander about unhindered, maybe more people should let their dogs run about on the roads to control general traffic speeds.

From Richard Prince

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Being a cyclist myself, I always pull my dogs over to one side and make sure there is enough space to pass them. I have no wish to see someone fall into the canal or a dog get clipped. However, there are possibly a few dog walkers and pedestrians who are not so kindly disposed to two-wheelers because they are fed up with encountering mountain bikes speeding down woodland footpaths, kids with brakeless bikes on their way to the skate park or (my pet peeve) sick of getting a face-full of high intensity halogen from helmet mounted bike lights when walking on the canal at night. Bottom line: there may be some inconsiderate dog owners, but there are many inconsiderate and illegal cyclists too. Ban one group, ban them all. (or better still, ban bans!)

From Paul D

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

I used to have a photograph of the Hebden Bridge agricultural show being held on Calder Holmes after the war (first) and before landfill raised it to the current level (it was a tip for a while).

It has to be one of the best level plots of land purely for public use in the town, we should take more care of it. There's no need to fall out about who should or shouldn't use it, if we just all use it properly we'll rub along just grand. Dogs, kids, cyclists, pensioners and footballers alike, it just needs us all to give a bit more thought for others.

See also:

HebWeb News: Dog Control Orders Consultation

From Lizzie D

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Hear hear Paul. You are quite right that if all dog owners, skateboarders, cyclists footballers and parents of little ones etc were responsible. and considered others. then there wouldnt be a problem. Unfortunately, the irresponsible ones make the headlines. I too would hate to lose any more of our park. I'm not happy about the demise of the bowling green and tennis courts as it is. So maybe instead of wanting dog free parks we should be pushing for money to be invested in making them all dog-poo free spaces.

From Phil Howitt

Friday, 28 October 2011

I'm trying to locate the owners of a pitbull cross dog, grey, youngish, possibly an older puppy, who I encountered last Sunday around 1pm near Lumb Mill near where the kids' sculptures were, heading in the Hebden direction after presumably walking down from Hebble Hole.

My dog, a border collie was attacked and pinned down for several minutes. I later found several puncture wounds to its neck. It needed emergency treatment later that day. If this is anyone on-list or more likely, anyone knows who it could belong to, please contact me at phil.howitt@3-c.coop

From Stephen Curry

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Perhaps with DNA technology becoming cheaper we should follow the lead (excuse the pun) of Volkach in Germany who proposed a DNA database for dogs. Any significant sized dog poo or poo bags left in public places could be tested and the owners brought to book. Like the guy who walks his dog off lead in Hangingroyd Lane late at night around and around until the dog depsits it's load wherever. What the eye doesn't see? you'll find on your shoes in the morning.

From Jez H

Sunday, 30 October 2011

May I suggest that people actually read the proposal instead of listening to hearsay and chinese whispers. The proposal isn't groundbreaking it simply reduces the chance of:

  • My little daughter being bitten, getting in contact with dog pooh or simply or scared out of her wits (it bans dogs from kids play grounds)
  • Me sliding head first through some dogs' filth.
    When I play footie in the park
  • A blatenly out of control dog worrying other dogs in a park or chasing deer in the craggs.

All responsible dog owners should already abide by this, so surely it's only the stupid messy and damn right dangerous dog owners that need to worry.

From Helen T

Monday, 31 October 2011

It is pretty universally agreed that it would be best if dogs were not in children's play areas. To this end, most play areas are fenced and gated, with signs saying dogs not allowed, and similarly, most play areas are cycle and ball game free also, with relevant signs to say so.

However, as a custodian of both children and dogs, I notice that in play areas where councils have taken the trouble to securely fence and gate for the protection of children (nowadays this is almost all play areas), the gates are frequently left open. I see this all over, and it is the case even in instances such as in Calder Holmes Park where there is a conspicuous sign fixed to the playground gate asking parents, for the safety of children, to please close the gate. I routinely see parents take their kids into the playground, leaving the gate open while they are in there; I also see parents exit the playground with their own kids, leaving the gate open behind them while there are still other children playing in there. This playground, let's remember, is just 30ft or so from the Rochdale canal towpath.

Not only must we as dog owners act responsibly. We parents have a clear responsibility to use the methods available to us to protect our children's safety and we have no right to complain that our children are at risk from others' choices while omitting to make use of elementary safety measures such as the gates on playgrounds.

On the subject of toxocariasis: this is a much publicised risk but is a condition which is in fact extremely rare, very rarely serious and eminently curable; it is less of a threat to our children than almost anything else they might encounter! Check out www.nhs.uk/conditions/toxocariasis.

Obviously, none of us want our children (or ourselves) to be at any risk of any harm, but as with any issue of public concern it is important to get the full picture; it is only good sense to establish for ourselves the extent of a threat in order to avoid worrying about it unnecessarily. More importantly, by not gaining a reasonable perspective, we risk potentially diverting resources away from greater threats to the things we care about. Personally, I would rather have more police and uniformed officers around the park than a load of signs and bylaws doubling up on already comprehensive though under enforced legislation.