As an owner of dogs all my life my heart goes out to Jean Tuck who lost her beloved pets whilst in The Walks after they were attacked by a pack of loose dogs.
It must have been an horrendous experience for her.
An immediate reaction to prevent a similar tragedy would be for the council to insist that all dogs are on leads in public places, but I do not think that is the long term answer. Conservation areas are already insisting that dogs are on leads, farmers do not want loose dogs on their land and would a beach be defined as a public place? Dogs play a big part in many people’s lives and part of the joy of owning one is to see them retrieve a ball or watching them enjoy controlled free running. If they were constantly on a lead a dog would become frustrated and agitated.
As there are more and more instances of dog attacks on other dogs and also children it must be time to debate long term solutions. The government introduced the Dangerous Dogs Act, which is a useless, ineffective piece of legislation and causes nothing but confusion. The RSPCA are currently lobbying MPs to beef this Act up. But it is the owner as well as the dog who should be controlled.
My personal views are that all households should pay for a license to own dogs over 8kg (this would allow people on limited incomes to enjoy companion dogs of small breeds);
no household should have more than two dogs; all dogs should be neutered and microchipped.
In order for a household to obtain a licence it should be visited by a dog controller to see if it is suitable by meeting specific criteria.
All dog owners should be issued with booklets on basic training techniques.
Every penny from the license fee should go towards providing a team of appointed dog controllers to patrol the area.
Anyone operating a dog walking business should hold a special license.
A well trained and cared for dog brings a lot of pleasure to a vast proportion of the population. It is time to get this legislation right and I urge everyone to lobby their MPs to introduce such a Bill.