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‘ASBO’ plan for dangerous dogs

ALLEGEDLY DANGEROUS dogs could be given ‘Asbos’ under controversial plans to crack down on canine menaces.

Dog Control Orders are being drafted by a handful of councils in East Sussex to provide the power to curb dog owners whose aggressive pets attack other dogs and foul streets. A draft of the order, dubbed ‘Asbos for dogs’ by its critics, was presented to Rother Parish councillors last month and was due be discussed by Rother District Council's cabinet at a meeting on Monday this week.

Under the proposals, dogs will be banned from certain areas, kept on short leads in public spaces and owners will be barred from walking more than three dogs at the same time. Dog walkers caught breaking the rules could be issued with a £1,000 maximum fine or a fixed penalty notice.

The move comes at a time of mounting concern about dangerous dogs in the UK, with the recent death of five-year-old Ellie Lawrenson being used as a justification for the proposed order, along with a spate of attacks on East Sussex residents by dogs in recent months.

Last September, Bexhill resident Jackie Hamilton was attacked by a pair of unleashed Dobermann dogs in Broad Oak Park. Ms Hamilton said: ‘My leg is still badly scarred. I couldn't drive or work for a week after it happened. It's such a shame that irresponsible dog owners have jeopardised walks for the rest of us.’

Bexhill councillor Keith Standring, who campaigned to limit the number of dogs that walkers will be allowed to take out with them, said: ‘People should be able to walk through public places without large numbers of dogs deciding to go on the rampage. They have a right to expect that they can go for a walk without being savaged. Even three dogs are difficult to manage but six is impossible if they decide to start causing trouble.’

Rother's head of environmental health Richard Parker-Harding said: ‘There have been problems with dog attacks and we are taking measures to address that. It's only possible to control a dog when it is on a lead.’

But critics, including other councils in the county have said the move will be impossible to enforce. In a statement to the cabinet, Whatlington parish council said: ‘We strongly object to the control order that dogs are to be kept on leads. While councillors appreciate concerns about dog mess, in the countryside we have wildlife, namely foxes and badgers. This makes a mockery of the order which is unnecessary and unenforceable.’

The order will not apply in Catsfield, Crowhurst, Guestling, Peasmarsh and Battle, all areas that refused to take part in the ban. Guestling parish council called the measure ‘too heavy handed’ and ‘well-nigh impossible to police’.

However, Rother District Council says it is receiving at least one complaint a week from dog owners whose pets are attacked by other dogs, and more than 100 complaints a year are made about dog fouling on public land.