Petitioning Member of Parliament Amber Rudd MP

STOP THE PERSECUTION OF UK DOG OWNERS - REPEAL PSPOs AGAINST OUR DOGS

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We, the undersigned, ask you to:

1) REPEAL PUBLIC SPACES PROTECTION ORDERS (PSPOs) AGAINST DOGS AND THEIR OWNERS. The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 is full of loopholes and is too non-specific. Councils across the UK are using it to ban dogs from thousands of parks, beaches and open spaces without providing real justification for doing so.
2) TIGHTEN GUIDELINES AND REQUIREMENTS FOR FUTURE DOG RESTRICTIONS. Councils should be required to provide verifiable evidence for any claims they make against dog owners, and must be required to comply with the results of public consultations where the majority of the public is opposed to proposed restrictions. We request that you make it law, again, for councils to hold public consultations before introducing dog bans or restrictions.  Under the new laws for introducing PSPOs, they are not required to consult with their publics and as a result, are introducing them on the whims and personal prejudices of individual councillors.  We want a return to the requirement for public consultation that applied when Dog Control Orders were being introduced, but without the option to ignore consultation outcomes.  There should also be stronger requirements for councils to find alternatives to blanket bans and restrictions
3) PROSECUTE COUNCILLORS WHO USE THEIR POSITIONS FOR PERSONAL GAIN AND MAKE FALSE CLAIMS AGAINST DOG OWNERS. Councils should be liable for prosecution if they deliberately spread misinformation about dogs or dog mess, to justify their bans and restrictions. There is NO evidence that dogs have been responsible for the handful of cases of toxocara that occur in the UK every year. A scientific study published in 2016 found that domestic cats are five times more likely to be infected with the parasite; and foxes are likely to be the greatest carrier, since they are un-wormed, unvaccinated wild dogs. Do not take this to mean that we support the reintroduction of fox hunting. Despite the weight of scientific evidence, and evidence from Defra and the Government, too many councils continue to lie about the ‘dangers’ of dogs and dog mess, in order to garner support for restrictions and bans. The fallout from this has been that communities across Britain have been split by this issue, bad feeling against dog owners has escalated and crimes against dogs (including poisonings) have risen dramatically. We want to see councils held accountable for this.
4) RE-DEFINE THE REPORTING OF ‘DOG ATTACKS’. Thanks to the hysteria spread by local councils, dog owners are living in fear of being reported for having a ‘dangerous’ dog. This includes owners of puppies who might jump up at people, or dogs that bark at passers-by. There hasn’t been a rise in ‘dog attacks’, merely a change in the frequency of reporting of any misdemeanour committed by any dog. This is something that has been actively encouraged by Britain’s corrupt councils and we want to see an end to this cultivated hysteria, please. People shouldn't be able to fabricate complaints against us and it is time some common-sense was restored to this entire issue.
5) PREVENT BANS BEING INTRODUCED FOR SILLY REASONS. While we accept that not everybody likes dogs, we live in a society in which ‘diversity’ is supposed to be valued. It is NO justification to ban dogs because ‘some people (including children) are scared of them’. There are more than eight million dogs in this country and councils should be encouraging people to learn how to live alongside them. There are plenty of organisations (eg, Kennel Club, Dogs’ Trust) who run courses to help in this respect. NO psychiatrist recommends banning dogs to deal with a fear of them. Some councils are now trying to ban dogs ‘for the sake of wildlife’. This is just as ridiculous; the agencies we have consulted say that wildlife has existed perfectly well where dogs have exercised for decades. It is simply another excuse that councils are employing, to justify their extreme discrimination.
6) PREVENT COUNCILS FROM INTRODUCING COUNTY-WIDE PUBLIC SPACES PROTECTION ORDERS (PSPOs). According to Gov.UK, Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) ‘can only be applied to public land’. The Cambridge Dictionary defines public land as ‘land owned by the council’. Therefore, councils should not be introducing ‘county-wide’ PSPOs across land they don’t own and which they have no hope of policing, anyway.
7) PREVENT COUNCILS FROM EMPLOYING PRIVATE SECURITY FIRMS TO PERSECUTE US - Many councils are employing private security firms to go out and stalk dog owners, filming them or leaping out at them from bushes, intimidating them, stopping and searching them, and fining them for the smallest misdemeanours. These private companies are working to targets and paid according to the number of fines they issue. This is not fair, and neither can it be legal.  
8) RECOGNISE OUR DOGS AS IMPORTANT MEMBERS OF OUR FAMILIES. Our dogs are much-loved and important members of our families. No other animal has forged such a close relationship with humans. We want the Government to recognise our dogs as family members that should be treated as any other family member and accorded the same respect by councils. The Human Rights Act states that we have the right to choose the type of ‘family’ we have; therefore, we should have the right to have dogs as family members and councils must be prevented from discriminating against them.  
9) REPEAL PUBLIC SPACES PROTECTION ORDER (PSPO) DEMANDS THAT CONFLICT WITH OUR RIGHTS UNDER UK LAW. Many councils have introduced a ‘stop and search’ policy, demanding that dog owners produce pooh bags on request or face a fine. We are advised by the Equality Advisory Support Service that this is against S8 and S14 of the Human Rights Act. It also conflicts with the basis of UK law, which assumes ‘innocence until PROVEN guilty’. Such rights are afforded to suspected criminals, but UK councils are trying to remove them from dog owners. This is completely unacceptable. Coercing dog owners to comply by using threats is a prosecutable offence for assault and intimidation. We are advised that stalking dog owners and filming them with body-worn CCTV cameras is also against the same Articles of the Human Rights Act, so we ask that you please put a stop to that practice as well.
10) MAKE COUNCILS COMPLY WITH DEFRA GUIDELINES. DEFRA recommends a limit of six dogs to be walked at once, but too many councils think they know better and are setting a limit of four. This is setting an ‘unattainable’ standard for families with five or six dogs, and is ruining the businesses of professional dog walkers, who provide an essential and valued service for many working 'dog parents'.
11) PROVIDE US WITH A REGULATOR. We are asking for an unbiased regulator who we can turn to, if we believe that local councils are discriminating unfairly against us, adjusting the law to suit their own ends, finding legal loopholes to facilitate their own bias, fiddling consultation figures, ignoring consultation results, lying about us and our pets, and hate mongering within our communities. Currently, Dog owners have been given NO right of redress, under PSPO legislation, other than to bring an extremely expensive case to the High Court within six weeks of any Public Spaces Protection Order being introduced. For most of us, this is prohibitively expensive and not achievable within the six week timescale. We need a regulator with power to fully investigate those councils against which we have evidence of corruption, and to take action against them.

12) WE DEMAND EQUALITY. Councils are busy persecuting dog owners – the vast majority of whom have done nothing wrong – whilst completely ignoring the growing problems of littering and fly-tipping. This is outright discrimination and we are asking you to recognise that. In the name of equality, the same rules and laws should apply to all sectors of society. So, councils that ban dogs from beaches because a minority of owners don’t pick up should also be obligated to ban families from beaches because a minority leave dangerous litter behind that pollutes the environment and threatens lives.

We ask you to recognise that the majority of dog owners are law-abiding citizens who clear up after their pets in public spaces and who also provide unpaid litter-picking services on many beaches, and in many parks, across the UK. We have been targeted to the point that it is becoming impossible to comply with our legal obligation to exercise our dogs off-lead, as required by S9 of the Animal Welfare Act. We are on the receiving end of unwarranted abuse from other members of society on a daily basis, thanks to the hate-mongering of local councils pursuing their own goals. Our position is becoming untenable, many dog owners are very angry and frightened, and we have nobody to turn to for justice.

We are asking you to please intervene on our behalf and stop the persecution of UK dog owners. Since taking part in consultations, petitioning local councils, protest walks, campaign pages and a host of other fair and legal attempts to be heard have failed, it is clear we need help from Government over this issue.

Thank-you.

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