RESIDENTS are being invited to have their say on Cheshire West and Chester Council’s proposals to tackle irresponsible dog owners.

The council recognises that the vast majority of dog owners are responsible and keep their dogs under control while they are out.

For animal welfare reasons it is also beneficial for dog owners to be able to exercise their dogs off lead in open spaces.

However, if they are not properly supervised and kept under control, dogs that are allowed off a lead in public areas can cause nuisance or even injury to members of the public, or other animals, and may cause road traffic accidents.

A public consultation on proposals for a Public Space Protection Order which includes various dog control measures began Thursday.

The proposals aim to strike a balance, recognising that most people are responsible dog owners, while making provision for controls where they may be necessary.

The consultation will ask for views on a range of proposals which could be enforced using Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN). They include:

• Dogs to be excluded from fully-enclosed children’s play areas that contain play equipment to keep children safe from the risks of dog fouling (the bacteria from dog foul can cause blindness).

• Dogs to be excluded from marked and maintained sports areas

• Dogs on leads at the request of an authorised officer – all public spaces except forestry commission land (Only if requested by an authorised officer, not at all times)

• Dogs on leads in cemeteries and the crematorium

• Restrictions on the number of dogs that dog walkers can walk at any one time

• Dog walkers to carry sufficient means to pick up their dog foul

The consultation will also ask for opinions on the possible use of DNA registration as an alternative to issuing an FPN and ensuring town and parish councils have the power to issue FPNs on land they own or manage.

Cllr Karen Shore, council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “We know that problems caused by irresponsible dog owners are felt within communities across our borough and we are committed to tackling these issues.

“There have been many changes and improvements to our borough’s parks and play areas since original Dog Control Orders and Byelaws were introduced, including new ones been created that are not covered.

“We have many examples where the landscape has changed and old legislation is no longer practically enforceable.

“Our proposals will help keep our children and residents safe in their communities where there could be problems with dog fouling or irresponsible dog ownership.

“I hope as many residents as possible give their views.”

The consultation will close on April 28. The outcome of the public consultation will be considered by Cabinet in autumn 2018.

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