DOG WALKING: Six dogs per walker limit stays
Six dogs can still be walked by one person at a time in seven Newcastle parks after a proposal to limit the number to four failed to get enough support from councillors.
A public spaces protection order (PSPO) which restricts the number of dogs that can be walked by one person to six animals was renewed by Newcastle Borough Council last year. But some members were concerned that the six-dog limit, which covers Apedale, Bateswood, Bathpool, Clough Hall, Silverdale and Birchenwood parks, as well as Lyme Valley Parkway, needed further consideration.
On Tuesday (March 16) the council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee decided to leave the six-dog limit in place, despite a proposal being put forward to reduce the number.
Council officer David Beardmore told the committee: “One in four of our households, which is some 14,000 households, have at least one dog. There’s very few that have a considerable number.
“Once you get to three dogs in the household you’re only looking at four per cent of our dog-owning households. And when you get to more than four dogs there’s probably only some 280 families across our 50-odd thousand families within the borough that own more than four.
“The data would suggest there is unlikely to be occasions when people are exercising more than four dogs. However, this clearly does happen; there’s times when maybe a resident will walk dogs for another family member or a neighbour, and there are times when there will be commercial dog walkers.
“The majority of complaints we have about dog interactions – and this is a very small number, we’re probably talking less than 20 complaints of this type each year – are generally not about high numbers of dogs. They’re about interactions with somebody that has one, maybe two dogs, and quite often it’s another walker’s dog with their dog, so it’s one dog to one dog, way below the threshold of this particular rule.”
He added that reducing the number of pets that can be walked at one time would affect professional dog walking services. There are around six to eight businesses that regularly use the borough’s green spaces, the meeting heard.
Mr Beardmore said: “There will be a small number of residents who are aggrieved if the number is curtailed because they may be walking other people’s dogs and that may prove difficult for them.
“If they have five or six dogs it may be difficult for them to have the time to do that in two walks of any sensible duration during the day – that can then have animal welfare consequences for the dogs that aren’t walked, or that are left at home whilst other pets from the household are separated from them for a while.
“Likewise, if we set a large number of locations where a relatively low number is imposed there is going to be displacement. What isn’t on the list will suddenly become a focus for dog walkers, and particularly commercial dog walkers.
“Members maybe need to think whether or not legitimate businesses that walk dogs are maybe better walking those dogs in Apedale, Bathpool or Bateswood than they would be on Wolstanton Marsh, Icky Picky, Wammy or somewhere like that.”
Councillor Gillian Williams proposed that the maximum number of dogs that could be walked by one person at the same time should be reduced from six to four in all the borough’s public parks.
She said: “We have small parks in our area that are inundated with dogs – and only dogs now because children haven’t got room to play. Nothing that has been said convinces me one person can have control over six dogs on or off a lead, ensure the safety of the public and clean up after themselves.
Councillor John Williams seconded the proposal. He said: “We live in a world now where things could happen. I’ve seen it with six dogs on long leads walking in our country parks and it’s quite intimidating – you give them a wide berth.
“The country parks are for everybody; children, older people and people throughout the borough to use. I support this change because if something happened I wouldn’t like it on my conscience as a member of this committee.
“The Covid pandemic has changed a lot of people’s attitudes and what they see as right and wrong. I think it is wrong if we allow one person to have six dogs.”
But the proposal was defeated by seven votes to six.
Councillor Jill Waring said: “I support the recommendations (to keep the six dog limit). I think if they have been in force for years and we have no great problems with them I can’t see a reason why we shouldn’t keep to six.
“If there are six to eight businesses that could be affected by it I think we ought to take that into account. I regularly see people walking more than four or five dogs – we have got a greyhound rescue centre not far from where I live.
“I don’t think six is too many.”
Councillor Stephen Sweeney said: “I think I would probably leave it at six myself. I have been on this council since 2006 and I have never had this issue raised with me by residents.”
Words: Kerry Ashdown, Local Democracy Reporter
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