Be warned the "honeymoon" period is over
Dog owners are being warned that they could face legal action and the possibility of on-the-spot fines if they fail to heed new borough-wide rules on dog ownership from next week.
Dog control orders were introduced to the borough earlier this year with the aim of promoting responsible dog ownership and to ensure that owners whose pets are allowed to cause problems face swift and effective sanctions.
Since the orders were introduced, the council’s dog wardens, housing officials and parks police officers have been actively engaging with owners to make sure they fully understand the new rules and their new responsibilities.
This period of “public education and awareness” has now come to an end and from Monday, November 29 onwards, any dog owner found breaching the orders will face legal action. This could range from being summonsed to appear in a magistrates court or being handed an £80 fixed penalty notice.
The new orders have introduced 'poop-scoop' rules across the whole borough. This means that owners will be required to clean up after their pets in all public places in Wandsworth. Owners whose dogs foul the gutter or the road surface will have to remove it.
Dogs must now also be kept firmly on a short lead whilst being walked anywhere on the public highway including town centres and residential streets.
In local parks and open spaces, common-sense parts like children's playgrounds, tennis courts, sports pitches, lakes and bowling greens will remain as designated dog free zones – as they have traditionally been – but dogs must now be kept on leads in a small number of very specific and clearly identified areas such as car parks and outdoor eating areas. In all other places they can be exercised as normal.
To ensure that owners are fully aware of the new rules and their new responsibilities, signs have been installed across the borough to educate and inform them.
Signs have been attached to lamposts in town centres, residential streets and other parts of the public highway so that owners know the specific rules that apply in those areas. Signs have also been erected to outline the rules that now apply in the borough's parks and open spaces.
Environment spokesman Sarah McDermott said:
"The honeymoon period following the introduction of these changes has now come to an end and from Monday onwards the new rules will be rigorously enforced. It is vitally important that dog owners now familiarise themselves with the new arrangements that apply in the places they normally exercise their pets, if they haven’t done so already."
"The biggest changes are the new requirements for all dogs to be kept on a lead whilst being walked anywhere on the public highway and also the extension of poop scoop laws to cover the entire borough and not just our parks and open spaces.
"What this means is that owners will have to clear up after their dogs, wherever this happens. It is no longer an option for dogs to leave a mess behind in gutters. Most responsible dog owners already follow these straightforward and sensible rules and prevent their pets from causing any problems. "But the changes mean that careless and irresponsible dog owners can now be targeted with much greater effect. From Monday that is precisely what will be happening.”
November 26, 2010