Wrexham council must not 'demonise' dog owners, says RSPCA
The RSPCA is urging Wrexham council not to "demonise" responsible dog owners.
The council has been consulting on a new protection order which would ban dogs from play areas and sports pitches, and require them to be kept on leads on public roads and pavements.
The RSPCA said the order could create a "negative view of dog ownership".
Wrexham council said it recognised that dogs must have space to exercise and the recommendations allow this on informal open space and country parks.
The council currently has three dog control orders and wants to replace them with a new Public Spaces and Protection Order (PSPO).
The order recommends:
- Continued exclusion of dogs from children's play areas, multi-use games areas and marked sports pitches (apart from assistance dogs)
- Placing dogs on leads when instructed to do so by an authorised person
- Keeping dogs on leads around visitor centres and park car parks
- Keeping dogs on leads when walking on public roads and pavements
- Owners picking up after their dogs
Responding to the consultation, the RSPCA said banning dogs from sport pitches was "restrictive," especially if there was no other spaces nearby.
It said dogs need to have exercise off the lead, allowing them to express "their normal behaviour".
The charity recognised that dog faeces can be "a nuisance" to people that use the pitches, but said it can be removed.
"Imposing the restriction would punish responsible dog owners," it said.
Councils were given powers to introduce PSPOs in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
RSPCA Cymru public affairs manager Paul Smith said: "We don't want these powers to accidentally create a negative view of dog ownership by implementing undue restrictions, or inadvertently demonise responsible dog owners."
Councillor David Bithell, Wrexham council's lead member for environment and transport, said they have had "an extensive consultation" and listened to all views about the proposed PSPO.
"Dogs have been excluded on marked sports pitches since 2009, and we recognise that dogs must have space to exercise," he said.
"The recommendations allow this on informal open space and country parks, although around the visitors areas and car parks, we are asking that they are put on a lead."