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Dog Control PSPO
The Antisocial behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 brought in a wide range of powers, including replacing Dog Control Orders. The Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for dog control allows us to extend our powers and encourage responsible dog ownership. In turn, this will help make Maidstone an even cleaner, greener, healthier and safer place in which to play, live, work or visit.
An order can be used to control certain activities in a specified area if two conditions are met:
- that the activities have had, or are likely to have, a detrimental effect to the local community's quality of life
- that the effect is, or is likely to be, persistent and continuing nature and is or is likely to be such as to make those activities unreasonable and that restrictions are justified.
They impose conditions or restrictions on people using that area.
Maidstone is home to thousands of the responsible dog owners who exercise their pets across the borough. In addition, our parks and open spaces also attract dog owners from further afield. Unfortunately, not all dog owners are responsible and it has long been felt that irresponsible dog ownership is not limited to whether an owner cleans up after their dog.
The following are the current dog control offences in Maidstone:
- A person responsible for the dog(s) allows dog fouling by not removing dog fouling from any public place.
- Allowing dogs to enter fenced play areas displaying a “no dogs” sign.
- Dogs are not permitted on site at the Crematorium without prior agreement from the Bereavement Services Manager. Certified working Assistance Dogs are an exception to this rule under the Equalities Act 2010.
PSPO Review and Consultation 2020
In 2018 we consulted residents about the possibility of introducing measures to combat irresponsible behaviour, but at the time it wasn’t expedient to do so due to other priorities. We are now seeking to confirm views on those specific measures and an additional measure relating to owners not keeping their dogs under proper control that we are considering introducing this year.
Under the review of the current PSPO we propose to extend the dog control powers to include the following offences:
- Allowing a dog to foul without picking it up (already an offence and continues to be an offence under the PSPO).
- Allowing dogs in designated play areas (i.e. dogs are not allowed in specified areas where slides, swings and/or other climbing/ play equipment is located including Council owned tennis courts).
- Allowing dogs to enter Vinters Park Crematorium and grounds without having received permission from the Bereavement Services Manager (already an offence and continues to be an offence under the PSPO).
- Failing to put a dog on a lead when asked to do so by an authorised officer (e.g. by a Maidstone Borough Council officer)
- Failing to keep dog(s) on a lead within the grounds of Sutton Road Cemetery.
- Failing to keep a dog under proper control in a publicly accessible place (i.e. it will be an offence to allow a dog to wander/roam loose/exercise without a responsible dog owner present).
Map of areas covered by the proposed Dog Control PSPO
The Antisocial behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 brought in a wide range of powers, including replacing Dog Control Orders. The PSPO for dog control allows us to extend our powers and encourage responsible dog ownership. In turn, this will help make Maidstone an even cleaner, greener, healthier and safer place in which to play, live, work or visit.
Why are you implementing a Public Space Protection Order for dog control?
The Antisocial behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 brought in more powers, including replacing Dog Control Orders. The PSPO for dog control allows us to extend our powers and encourage responsible dog ownership. In turn, this will help make Maidstone an even cleaner, greener, healthier and safer place in which to play, live, work or visit by:
- reducing the number of dog fouling incidents across the borough
- reducing the number of dogs allowed to stray/collected and make it easier to return dogs to their owners by checking dogs are micro-chipped
- prevent incidents to enable powers to request dogs are placed on leads when directed to do so by an authorised officer
- making play areas safe and welcoming for children to enjoy
- keeping the Crematorium and cemetery peaceful, beautiful place for families to lay their loved ones to rest and remember them
- improving the local community, environment and health and well being for all.
How will the PSPO be enforced?
Authorised officers from Maidstone Borough Council can enforce the Order.
A Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £100 will be issued if any of the PSPO conditions are breached.
In cases of stray dogs, the FPN is reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days.
Failure to pay the FPN will lead to prosecution and being liable to a fine not exceeding £1,000.
Subsequent or repeat breaches of the PSPO conditions may result in direct prosecution rather than issuing multiple FPNs.
When would you prosecute a dog owner rather than issue a Fixed Penalty Notice?
Prosecution might be appropriate for repeat offenders, or if the offence is so serious that it merits prosecution. For example: a dog owner that allows their dog to be dangerously out of control, despite being directed by an officer to put it on a lead, may risk prosecution, rather than being issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice. The authorised officer would make an assessment of the severity of the circumstance and decide the most appropriate course of action.
Failure to pay the Fixed Penalty Notice would also result in prosecution.
Where does the requirement to pick up after my dog apply?
The PSPO states that a person in charge of the dog must “remove dog faeces from any land to which is open to the air and to which the public have access”.
Therefore, the requirement to clean up after your dog “from any land to which is open to the air and to which the public have access” is a legal definition.
It means you must pick up your dog’s foul outdoors in parks and on open spaces, on the footpath, highway, bridleways or any other area which someone else could reasonably be expected to access. This excludes your own private front or back garden but includes outdoor communal areas in a flat complex.
Why might I have to put my dog on a lead if a council officer or police officer tells me to?
Requiring dogs to be kept on leads in designated areas likely reduces the risk of dog fouling occurring and ensures dog walkers keep their dogs under control for the safety of yourself, your dog and the safety of others.
The vast majority of parks and open spaces are free of restrictions and only if an authorised officer considers a dog, or dogs, to be out of control, or causing alarm or distress, will the owner of a dog be instructed to put and keep a dog on a lead.
Why does the PSPO exclude dogs from children’s play sites?
The exclusion of dogs from certain sites, such as children's play areas, is important in ensuring the health of children in what we consider to be a safe and welcoming environment in which children play.
Dog fouling can harbour many bacterium can cause blindness from the disease toxocariasis, which is spread from animals to humans through infected dog foul.
Children should be free to play on the equipment without the fear of treading in or coming into contact with dog faeces.
Dogs taken into children’s play areas may become aggressive if startled and we need to ensure the safety of children in play environments.
Larger or excitable dogs risk knocking children over and can cause distress to people that are unfamiliar or unconfident around dogs.
Where certain play sites do not have fences, there is an exclusion zone surrounding it that dogs will not be permitted to play in.
I am the only adult with my child/children and my dog. What do I do?
Dogs can be securely tied to fences, provided they do not pose a health and safety risk to other children and members of the public. Any dog foul must be picked up and securely disposed of in a suitable bin.
Alternatively, your dog can be exercised at another time when you are not accessing a play site.
What defines a “stray dog”?
There is no formal definition of a stray dog in law. A dog may reasonably be treated as a stray if it is roaming freely and not under the control of any person, irrespective of whether it has a home. This applies whether or not the dog wears a collar with identification or is microchipped.
What if my dog is picked up as a stray?
Maidstone Borough Council is taking a zero tolerance approach to straying dogs. There are a number of reasons for this:
- The cost to the Council for collecting stray dogs in 2018/19 was £43,816.50.
- The council was unable to recover a significant amount of this cost because owners failed to pay their invoices relating to the cost of collecting their dog.
- Stray dogs create a number of potential dangers/ hazards when an owner is not around to keep the dog under control such as risk of road traffic collisions, danger to livestock, risk of injury to humans/ other animals and dog fouling.
We feel that it is not fair to expect the Council Tax payer to foot the bill for irresponsible dog owners and that a zero tolerance approach will encourage the irresponsible owners to change their behaviour.
Subsequent/repeat stray offences?
If the same dog is found straying subsequently/ repeatedly, then authorised officers have the power to issue a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice or a Community Protection Notice/Community Protection Warning or process for prosecution as appropriate.