Dog ban laws causing 'hardship and distress'

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Dog ban laws and lead orders are causing "hardship and distress" for pet owners, a new report has claimed.

The Kennel Club estimated Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) have been used to ban dogs from more than 2,200 open spaces in England and Wales, while pets must be kept on leads in a further 1,100 parks and public areas.

Sunderland City Council is one of a number of authorities using such powers. In October 2014 it activated 184 orders, which included beach bans and lead orders for scores of areas of the city.
At the time, the authority said the rules were being introduced as concerns about dogs were among the main reasons why residents got in touch.

But The Kennel Club has said blanket bans are regularly applied to parks, playing fields and beaches - and people who use assistance dogs are among the most "severely impacted" by the restrictions.

Those who breach the civil orders, introduced under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act and imposed by councils, could face a criminal prosecution or fine.

The Kennel Club will launch the report, entitled Out of Order, at Parliament on Tuesday and called on the Government to heed its 11 recommendations.

The report concludes: "Even in the less extreme cases, PSPOs are causing considerable hardship and distress for local dog owners."

Caroline Kisko, the club's secretary, said some councils were "actively trying to criminalise dog owners".

"Some local authorities seem to be waging a war on dogs and their owners and singling them out from the rest of the population with no real reason for doing so," she said.

"The UK has long been known as a nation of dog lovers and we would not want to see this undermined through unnecessary restrictions that cause dog owners to feel that going about their daily lives could result in a fine or unfair penalisation."

The club is calling for improved guidance for local authorities from the Home Office, flexibility for responsible dog owners and also exemptions for those who rely on assistance dogs.