Nasty Experience with loose dogs on The Sandstone Trail, Frodsham
by Sandra Scott, Runcorn
I had a particularly nasty experience whilst walking along the Sandstone Trail on Friday 19th October 2012.
At the bottom the Bakers Dozen staircase at the end of a particularly enjoyable walk along the sandstone trail, we encountered a party of people with 6 - 8 dogs all running freely in a pack. As the party were at the top of the staircase with the pack dogs running out of control & the owners were calling the dogs with no avail.
I felt particularly uncomfortable with the situation and my husband and I decided to wait at the bottom of the staircase until the chaos had subsided. After a five minute or so wait we were able to continue up the stair case.
As we approached the path leading to the car park, we were ambushed by one of the dog owners with a barrage of personal & abusive language. I was shouted at to the tune of "the walk is not just for humans" & "you should lighten up you f********* sour faced b*****" At this point I was utterly shocked & tried to explain that we had waited patiently. The torrent of abuse continued for some minutes to my shock & disbelief.
We felt threatened by the behaviour of this particular "lady" in the dog owner party, and had to make a diversion across the golf course in order to avoid further confrontation.
Can you please advise what the legal stance where dog owners/dog walkers are concerned and Frodsham's policy on Dog Control Orders. We now feel that we cannot walk freely along the trail, it would appear that dog owners feel it is their right to walk without the dogs being in control or an a lead in public places. Whilst we appreciate the right for all to use the walk some compromise for non-dog owners should be in place. It is becoming apparent that the "free walking" of dogs without a lead also leaves a trail of defecation which is very unpleasant.
I would appreciate your comments & advice so that we can feel comfortable enough to continue to walk the trail with confidence.
Dog owners are required to keep dogs under effective control at all times. For the avoidance on doubt, The Countryside Code on the Natural England website is quite explicit about what is defined by the phrase 'Keep dogs under effective control'.
Keep dogs under effective control
When you take your dog into the outdoors, always ensure it does not disturb wildlife, farm animals, horses or other people by keeping it under effective control. This means that you:
- keep your dog on a lead, or
- keep it in sight at all times, be aware of what it's doing and be confident it will return to you promptly on command
- ensure it does not stray off the path or area where you have a right of access
Special dog rules may apply in particular situations, so always look out for local signs - for example:
- Dogs may be banned from certain areas that people use, or there may be restrictions, byelaws or control orders limiting where they can go.
- The access rights that normally apply to open country and registered common land (known as 'Open Access' land) require dogs to be kept on a short lead between 1 March and 31 July, to help protect ground nesting birds, and all year round near farm animals.
- At the coast, there may also be some local restrictions to require dogs to be kept on a short lead during the bird breeding season, and to prevent disturbance to flocks of resting and feeding birds during other times of year.
It's always good practice (and a legal requirement on 'Open Access' land) to keep your dog on a lead around farm animals and horses, for your own safety and for the welfare of the animals. A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dog's owner.
However, if cattle or horses chase you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead - don't risk getting hurt by trying to protect it. Your dog will be much safer if you let it run away from a farm animal in these circumstances and so will you.
Everyone knows how unpleasant dog mess is and it can cause infections, so always clean up after your dog and get rid of the mess responsibly - 'bag it and bin it'. Make sure your dog is wormed regularly to protect it, other animals and people.
Hope this helps . . .
“I literally hate people who allow their allegedly "friendly" dogs off lead. Years ago, when I was a teenager, a friend of mine was hospitalized because of the head injury resulting when someone's "friendly" dog attacked her horse on a public roadway. The dog owners just stood there and watched and only when threatened with violence by other equestrians did they attempt to control the dog, which ignored them and chased the horse a good half mile. Not long ago I brought a biddy to the vet and a foolish woman in the waiting room loosed her dog so it could look into the carrier, terrifying the poor hen. The woman told me repeatedly that her dog "wouldn't hurt" the poor hen - ignoring the fact that my poor biddy was terrified and the fear caused her to not lay for several days. I won't even mention being bitten on my own property by a dog owned by an irresponsible neighbor, new to rural living. Then there was the other family new to the countryside who were repeatedly asked to restrain their dog as it ran stock and on at least two occasions killed chickens on one property; they were shocked when their dog was shot and they were sent a bill for the dead poultry. People who raise stock depend on them for income, subsistence, or both, and when your dog attacks stock, it is quite literally taking food away from the grower's family. I have seen the results when someone loosed a small beagle in a sheep pasture; the sheep piled in a corner and quite a few died of stress, overheating, or suffocation before the sheep could be pulled from the pile. Others had to be euthanized because of broken legs resulting from the pile.”
Nadja Adolf, Newark, Ca And Wellington, Nv
“Hi Sandra, I'm sorry that you have had this negative experience but I do hope you will not tar all dog walkers with the same brush as many do keep their dogs under close control. I am a dog owner myself and you learn from the mistakes made. As an owner I know I am responsible for the actions of my dog. I do keep my dog on a lead by livestock, even though she is placid. I stand to one side with my dog, if needed, to let others pass. Keeping my dog on a lead also stops it from getting hurt as she has been kicked (by a human) and bitten (by a dog) when off the lead. I have also been shouted out by someone whose dogs were out of control. Should you be in the unfortunate position of this experience happening again, i would suggest you try get the car registration number of the dog and report the owner to the police for affray or causing harassment, alarm and distress to you. I hope this experience does not put you off walking.”
L Goodall, Leeds
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