Official launches took place at the Royal Welsh show
"Hail Caesar"! – Mr Carwyn Jones AM, Minister for the Environment, Countryside and Planning, assisted with the CCW leaflet launch and is seen speaking to Wendy Morrell and Caesar, with Bob Lowe (CCW) looking on
Over the last eighteen months the Kennel Club has worked in partnership with the Countryside Agency, the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), English Nature and the Forestry Commission and Forestry Commission Wales to produce informative leaflets for dog owners to give constructive and helpful advice and promote responsible ways of enjoying the countryside with their dogs.
As a first stage, the Countryside Code Canine Campaign and English Forestry Commission concordat were launched at Crufts 2005, and mid-July saw KC representatives travel to Wales to officially launch the ‘You And Your Dog In The Countryside’ leaflet in conjunction with the Countryside Council for Wales and sign the concordat between the KC and Forestry Commission Wales.
The CCW leaflet was officially launched by Carwyn Jones AM, Minister for the Environment, Countryside and Planning on the Countryside Council for Wales’ Stand at the Royal Welsh Show.
Graham Hill, Secretary of the Welsh Kennel Club and Caesar, an assistance dog from Dogs For The Disabled, and his owner Wendy Morrell also witnessed the ceremonies – and Caesar was of course impeccably behaved.
This work was initiated after the Kennel Club approached the organisations in advance of the implementation of the Countryside and Rights Of Way Act in England in September 2004. From May 2005, a major new right of access was introduced in Wales giving people the opportunity to walk freely across mapped ‘access land’ without having to stay on footpaths. In Wales, this will give dog walkers access to around 450,000 hectares of the country.
The reason for the Kennel Club’s proactive involvement was that it wanted to ensure that the rights of responsible dog owners were fully considered as part of the consultation process, with an interest in the building of partnerships with the various agencies and a clear understanding of rights and responsibilities between dog owners and land managers.
Said Kennel Club External Affairs Manager Phil Buckley, "Research commissioned by the Countryside Agency reports that 28% of regular visitors to the countryside are accompanied by a dog and with the roll-out of Open Access land, opportunities for dog owners to enjoy the countryside with their dogs is definitely on the increase. Dog walkers are therefore most likely to be the single most frequent visitor to the countryside."
Bob Lowe, Head of Recreation and Access for the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) continued, "We welcome the opportunity to work with the Kennel Club who are promoting messages about responsible access to the countryside among dog walkers who are an important group. Many people want to get out and enjoy the countryside and by following the countryside code and the specific messages within the leaflet they will be doing so responsibly."
FC Wales Visitor Services Manager, Andy Fryers concluded, "Woods are great places to exercise dogs, but with so many other people using the woods for a variety of different activities, it's important that pet lovers understand some basic ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ to ensure everybody enjoys their visit to the forest. Our woods are great places to take up an active and healthy lifestyle and we are delighted to be working with Britain's foremost canine organisation to promote the idea of responsible woodland walks."
All agreed that there was still work to be done with regard to this important access issue and look forward to continuing the work to thoroughly explore various canine issues that may arise with regard to the countryside.
Copies of the CCW leaflet can be ordered by calling the CCW Enquiry Line on 0845 130 6229 and visiting the Countryside Agency website at: www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk. More information on the woodlands of Wales can also be found on the Forestry Commission’s website – www.forestry.gov.uk