Challenge Darlington Council to adopt a new inclusive Dog Charter for the town

Challenge Darlington Council to adopt a new inclusive Dog Charter for the town

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Challenge Darlington Council to adopt a  
new inclusive Dog Charter for the town 
 
Darlington Borough Council believe that by adopting new powerful legislation called Public Space Protection Orders they are dealing with dog ownership in our town. The Council are only looking at changing legislation to provide more powers to prosecute - they have no plans to look at the bigger picture.  

The reality is very different. PSPOs are a criminal offence – it is a crime to breach one. 
PSPOs divide communities, create friction between dog and non-dog owners by failing to address the real dog related issues like fouling, or dogs out of control. They can also discriminate against vulnerable people and companion dogs as well as negatively impact on the environment. (Kennel Club report "Out of Order"). 

Dogs have been man’s best friend for centuries; the latest figures suggest that there are approximately 9 million pet dogs in the UK with between 1 in 3 and 1 in 4 households having a pet dog. The north east is the UK’s largest dog owning region with many households having more than 1 dog. 

One of the most important and enjoyable elements for most dog owners is getting out in the fresh air to take their dogs on a walk. We are lucky to have such a wide and varied choice of locations to walk our dogs. Dogs form an important bond with man and this bond is immeasurable when it comes to how dogs provide mental health support. 
As far back as 1783, Darlington has been dog friendly and the dog community has provided a valuable boost to our economy through the annual Darlington Dog Show, visiting sports and welfare dog groups participating in our area. 

Unfortunately, Darlington Borough Council have decided to put all of this at risk  
Not only may we lose these valuable attractions for our town, (recent dog shows have exhibited more than 10 000 dog entries), the loss of this economy will be sorely felt by local businesses as dog competitors avoid areas where these new laws are introduced, dog owners themselves will be subject of sweeping changes and restrictions on where and how they exercise their much loved pet. 

Darlington Council have made several errors of judgement in how they have introduced these PSPO proposals; failure to consult properly, limited research of the impact to vulnerable people and companion dogs, environmental impact assessments, displacement, and recorded information. It's easy for a Councillor to create fear and negative perception by publicly making a statement to BBC news that the Council have had numerous complaints of packs of dogs out of control yet freedom of information requests show no such recorded incidents in the last 3 years. 

It was irresponsible statements like that that led to responsible dog owners and non-dog owners, business owners and organisations who visit Darlington to come together with support and advice from The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust to form…  
Darlington Responsible Dog Owners Action Group. 

Our group have challenged our council to do something unique for the benefit of all residents, businesses and visitors to our town. By working together we will provide resources and expertise to work with the Council to introduce a responsible dog charter that will bring about real change and clean up our streets and open spaces, introduce dog education and responsible ownership programmes, introduce alternative legislation that means that persistent offenders are targeted and promote our town as a beacon for the UK in how to deal effectively with dog ownership for the benefit of all residents. 

Unfortunately, our Council leaders do not want to engage with our group and have no plan other than to change the law and all the expertise, resources and energy we have gathered will be lost and nothing will change. Dog fouling will still be a huge problem, poor behaviour or out of control dogs will not be addressed, dog welfare will become negatively affected as more and more public spaces become banned, and dog owners will become resentful. 

A substantial number of local counsellors support our group and can't understand why the Council leadership are so resistant to a collaborative approach.  
Your support will help bring about change to Darlington and create an inclusive dog charter that both dog owners and non-dog owners will support together with local businesses. We know this will be something to take pride in as Darlington through organisations such as The Kennel Club will promote our town as a flagship solution. 
We must act fast as the deadline to submit this petition is Tuesday 4th February. We will be holding a public gathering at 4pm at Stanhope Park, Stanhope Road, Darlington and march to the Town Hall to hand in the petition to the Council – why not join us and show your Council that you support positive change for our town.