DOG owners are biting back against proposed new rules which they say will ruin walkies for their pets.
New control orders set to be introduced by Harborough District Council will make it illegal for owners to have their dogs off the lead in certain areas.
The regulations include footpaths and cycleways – such as the Millennium Mile through Harborough – as well as grass verges, public sports pitches and car parks, cemeteries, churchyards and children’s play areas.
But a group of dog owners say the new regulations are a knee-jerk reaction in response to the actions of a few irresponsible owners.
They have set up the HOWL (Harborough Owners’ Walking Lobby) campaign group on Facebook in a bid to get the council to back down over the proposals.
Dani Harrison, of Shelland Close, Harborough, said the new regulations would ruin walks for her beloved pet beagle Dexter.
“There is going to be nowhere we can let our dogs off for twenty minutes,” said Dani.
“It will be no fun for Dexter having to walk around the block on a lead.
“My biggest concern is that Harborough will end up in the headlines when a once happy, contented, family pet attacks a family member due to the reduction in the amount of proper exercise it is getting making it grumpy – and ultimately aggressive.”
The new regulations would also see powers given to wardens to order owners to put their dogs on a lead and stricter punishments for fouling, including fines of up to £1,000.
“There are those who let their dogs run free when they’re not trustworthy and don’t pick up after their pets and I appreciate that laws need to be put in place,” said Dani.
“But this is a knee-jerk reaction by the council. I feel they are not making allowances for people who are responsible and look after their dogs.”
Tim Hands, who set up the HOWL Facebook group, urged those with objections to the regulations to write to the council.
In a post on the group’s page, which now has more than 100 members, he said: “The deadline for raising objections of any kind is May 3.
“We need to get as many members as possible as soon as possible. The more people we have as members, the stronger our voice of opposition can be.”
However one dog owner said he could see the reason for the new regulations.
Nathan Shelton has owned a beagle for 12 years but is also now a father of two young children.
“As a parent it is quite scary when you see a dog off a lead on footpaths,” he told the Mail.
“But at the same time dogs do have to be let off their leads occasionally because they can get aggressive otherwise.”
A council spokesman said proposals to introduce the regulations had come about following consultation with parishes, the overwhelmingly majority of which responded in favour of them.
Cllr Colin Golding, who has responsibility at the district council for community safety and enforcement, said: “We talked to parish councils which told us, overwhelmingly, they wanted us to do more to address issues of dog fouling and dogs not on leads in places such as children’s play areas.
“The majority of dog owners are responsible, however, there are some who aren’t and as a last resort we sometimes need to use enforcement powers.
“If people have any comments on the proposals we would encourage them to let us know.”
Write to Norman Proudfoot, Harborough District Council, Adam and Eve Street, Market Harborough, Leics LE16 7AG or email firstname.lastname@example.org.