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Keeping it on a tight leash

12th October 2016 Print

The number of protection orders in place across England and Wales, specifically related to dogs, increased by nine per cent in the two years from 2013-2015, according to new research from Direct Line Pet Insurance. In 2015 there were at least 892 Dog Control Orders instituted by local authorities and there has already been 866 orders given out as of 1st June 2016.

The number of Fixed Penalty Notices served to dog owners for a breach of dog control orders in 2015 was 2,448, a 24 per cent reduction on the number served to owners in 2013 (3,235). Local Authorities handed out an average of eight (FPNs) for breach of DCOs in 2015, compared to the average 11 handed out in 2013.

In total, local authorities generated in excess of £160,485 in FPNs for breached DCOs in 2015, an increase of three per cent on the £155,256 generated in 2014. The three local authorities which generated the highest revenue from FPNs in 2015 were Liverpool City Council (£6,320), Torbay Council (£6,300) and Scarborough Borough Council (£6,000).

The highest number of FPNs was served by Conwy County Borough Council which handed out an astonishing 512 penalties, an increase of 124 compared to 2014. Burnley Borough Council (145) and Torbay Council (84) also handed out high numbers of FPNs in 2015.

The Dog Control Order Regulations provide for five offences which may be prescribed in a dog control order and give councils the power to make orders regarding dogs in their area:

(a) Failing to remove dog faeces

(b) Not keeping a dog on a lead

(c) Not putting, and keeping, a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer

(d) Permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded

(e) Taking more than a specified number of dogs onto land

Prit Powar, head of Pet Insurance at Direct Line said: “To avoid the risk of a fine, owners should ensure they abide by the control orders put in place by their local authority, or anywhere they are visiting with their pets. If unsure, check your local council website, pop into the office or give them a call and ask for a list of the control orders in place that relate to your local area.”

Cornwall Council has consistently had the highest number of DCOs in place amongst English and Welsh local authorities, with 120 across the county from 2013-2016. Allerdale Borough Council has the second highest number of DCOs, at 84 between 2015 and 2016, an increase of 66 per cent from 2013 and 2014.

Prit Powar continued: “It is worth checking if there are restrictions on where you can take your dog within your area as they change depending on local authority and time of year. Cornwall, for example, has a number of controls in place across its beaches and public areas in summer months which are then relaxed in winter months.

“The orders themselves can vary significantly too; some say no dogs, others say dogs on a lead while others will specify the number of dogs which can be walked by one person at one time, so are especially relevant for dog walkers.”

The current dog protection orders are included within sections 55- 58 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 which state that a Dog Control Order can be made in respect of any land which is open to the air and to which the public are entitled or permitted to have access. These orders which limit the access of dogs in public areas will soon fall under the Anti-Social Crime and Behaviour Act 2014. And will be rebranded in Autumn 2017.

When looking at the regional picture, the South West had the highest number (250) of active DCOs in 2015, followed by the North West (179) and South East (102).