September 21 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
They are supposed to be man’s best friend, but not everyone is smitten with dogs.
And it seems that the region’s parks and public spaces are increasingly becoming a battleground between dog-lovers - and their four-legged friends - and those who would prefer the animals kept on leads, or banned altogether.
On Monday night, hundreds of people attended a meeting of Old Catton Parish Council, where members admitted - as trustees of Catton Park - that they were considering extending a dog-free zone in the area. The council pledged to continue to allow the animals - but said a survey had shown there could be a need for an extension.
Yesterday, the Kennel Club weighed in on the issue, warning that the region should not lose its reputation as a dog-friendly area.
A spokesman said: “Norfolk and north Suffolk are generally very dog-friendly, with lots of dog owners choosing to visit the area for holidays with their pets so it would be a great shame if dog bans or restrictions made it difficult for visitors or locals to exercise their dogs properly.
“We hope that Old Catton Parish Council consult fully with local people and groups to make a decision that would benefit everyone fairly and does not penalise responsible dog owners.”
It is a scenario being repeated across the region, and beyond, with some calling for certain public areas to be made dog free, or the animals forced to wear leads - in order to combat problems of dog fouling and nuisance animals.
Dog owners, on the other hand, are organising themselves - often aided by the Kennel Club - to head off restrictions. Last year, a proposal to ban dogs from a playing field in Belton, near Great Yarmouth, was scrapped after hundreds of people signed a petition opposing the plan. Even among dog owners, there is no agreement, with many blaming the problem on irresponsible owners. This week Beryl Brown told how she feared for the life of her 14-year-old Jack Russell cross after it was bitten by a dog which was not on a lead in the Jenny Lind Park in Norwich.
Other owners have since said they feel unable to walk their pets in Waterloo Park. Despite owners being asked to keep dogs on leads at this location, some owners flout the rules and dog attacks have left walkers afraid for themselves and their animals.
Elsewhere in Norwich, dogs are welcome in most parks and open spaces as long as they are under control. In some parks, they are only allowed on leads but they banned entirely from Wensum or St Clement’s Parks. The local council says it is attempting to take action, to head off problems, by updating signage in parks and neighbourhood officers patrol areas in a bid to ensure dogs are being kept under control.