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Daily dog walks could end up costing dog owners thousands of pounds as new laws are introduced

New legislation could mean over 8.5million people are at risk of breaking the law, just by walking their dog. This October more green spaces and beaches in England and Wales could introduce new rules either banning dogs altogether, or restricting access at certain times of day and year. But new research from Dogs Trust reveals that nearly 90% of people are unaware that they can influence these laws, and make them more dog friendly.

Currently some green spaces do have Dog Control Orders (DCOs) – legislation which 51% of dog owners have heard of – which outline times that dogs are not allowed to use certain areas, but come October these will become known as Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), and now there is confusion about what this could mean for dogs and their owners.

As the UK’s largest dog welfare charity Dogs Trust is urging people to check with their Local Authorities if there are any existing or planned PSPOs in their area and flag any concerns they may have, before it’s too late. Many dog owners know the restrictions that PSPOs can introduce, such as limiting where they can walk their dog (51%) or in some extreme cases banning dogs from certain areas (48%), but research shows they are unaware that they have the power to influence change.

PSPOs broken down:

  • PSPOs are being introduced in October 2017, they will replace DCOs
  • A PSPO can restrict dog walking in public spaces, such as having to keep your dog on the lead or only exercising your dog at certain times of the day or year
  • Breaching a PSPO can result in a fine
  • A PSPO can be brought about by a small group of residents complaining or raising concerns about an issue with their Local Authority

Says Lee Paris, Dogs Trust Campaigns Officer:

“Dogs Trust is worried that the majority of dog owners could unknowingly be risking fines and potentially huge restrictions on where they can and can’t walk their dogs. What’s more these changes could be based on just one or two comments from local residents. Unlike Dog Control Orders a Public Space Protection Order can be introduced based on the concerns of a small number of people, but that could have detrimental impact on dogs and their owners’”.

With less than 7% of people knowing that there are existing PSPOs in their area, it leaves a worrying number who just don’t know what could be due to impact them and their dog. Lee continues:

“Whilst we understand the need to ensure green spaces are enjoyable for all involved, we don’t want this to be at the detriment of dogs and their right to enjoy their daily walks. A dog is for life and we don’t want owners to be restricted when and how they enjoy the time with their four legged friend. Instead we hope that our PSPO toolkit, containing leaflets, flyers and a draft letter to send to your Local Authority, will ensure any future orders take a dog friendly approach.”

Over the last month Dogs Trust has consulted on nearly 50 proposed PSPOs - keep up to date with up-coming PSPO consultations here.