Council's postcard campaign to reach dog walkers

Last Updated: 20 December 2021

South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) is launching a postcard campaign to remind dog owners and professional dog walkers that they must not walk more than five dogs at a time in public open spaces covered by council regulations.

While the vast majority of South Lakeland’s pet owners and walkers act with consideration towards others, dark winter evenings lend cover to those who choose to flout the regulations.

The council’s Locality Team is taking action by issuing a postcard to remind dog walkers that they must not walk more than five dogs at a time in locations covered by Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) including parks, cemeteries and promenades. Dogs are excluded from children’s play areas and sports pitches covered by PSPOs.

To spread the message across the district, the council is distributing the postcard to venues such as vets’ surgeries, pet supplies’ shops and grooming parlours where it can be easily picked up. New signs are also to be put up at all the locations covered by PSPOs.

Anyone caught walking more than five dogs at a time, failing to keep their dog on a lead, neglecting to clean up after their dog or not carrying the means to do so in an area covered by a PSPO can be fined up to £100 on the spot, or £1,000 if taken to court. Owners of assistance dogs are exempt from the regulations.

SLDC’s Locality Team Leader Sue Warner said: “Many of us here at the council are dog owners ourselves and we know that the vast majority of dog walkers in South Lakeland behave with care and consideration towards others by keeping their pet on a lead in public open spaces and cleaning up any mess.

“Sadly, though, we see a rise in complaints every year once the clocks go back because a number of unscrupulous owners use the cover of darkness on winter evenings to neglect tidying up after their pet.

“We have also been contacted by a number of residents who have been concerned to see unreasonably large numbers of dogs walked by individuals.

“The postcard we are sending out is a reminder to dog owners and professional walkers that no more than five dogs may be walked by any individual in areas covered by PSPOs. This is to ensure that dogs are properly under control and that their mess is tidied up responsibly, for the health and safety of others.

“We also want to remind dog owners and walkers of their requirement to keep dogs on a lead in areas covered by PSPOs and to clean up any mess as well as carrying the means to do so.”

Meanwhile, the council is appealing for members of the public to share any intelligence they may have about repeat offenders in their neighbourhood.

Councillor Philip Dixon, Portfolio Holder for Customer and Locality Services, said: “Our postcard campaign is about education and reminding people of their duty of care towards others. In an ideal world we would not have to carry out enforcement action. If any member of the public has concerns about a particular dog owner, they can report this to us confidentially so that our Locality Team can carry out surveillance and enforcement to help keep the public safe.

“Council officers can only issue fines if they have evidence. It’s not as straightforward as somebody telling us they have seen their neighbour failing to pick up after their dog. Our officers need to witness the offence themselves.

“We will respond to intelligence reports and target areas with particular issues, which could extend to deploying Locality Officers to catch repeat offenders in the act, even if that means officers occasionally going out early in the morning or late at night when most offences take place.”

PSPOs last for three years before they have to be renewed. Earlier this year SLDC went out to consultation to seek the public’s views on existing PSPOs across the district before they were renewed in October 2021.

Full details of the areas covered by PSPOS can be found at: https://www.southlakeland.gov.uk/leisure-culture-and-events/parks-and-open-spaces/public-space-protection-order-pspo/

To make a complaint, go to: www.southlakeland.gov.uk/report or email locality@southlakeland.gov.uk