Advice for residents and visitors
Dog Fouling – Farmland, Public Footpaths and Roads
Living in the country we are fortunate enough to be able to walk and exercise our dogs relatively freely. Many public rights of way pass over local farmland including pastureland used for grazing of livestock and we need to be aware that those people who keep a dog have a responsibility to farmers and walkers to take ownership of their dog.
One of the main concerns that landowners and the general public find when using the paths across farmland is that some dog owners allow their dogs to foul and then do not pick up after them. Not only is this very unpleasant, but diseases can be transmitted to livestock, other dogs and humans via contaminated dog faeces.
The vast majority of dogs in Buckerell belong to responsible owners who take care of them and ensure that they do not foul farmland or public areas. Unfortunately there can be the odd occasion where a small number of inconsiderate dog owners who do not clear up after their dogs cause problems for the community in general.
Legislation now requires that dogs be on a lead whilst on a public right of way, and you must ensure that you have proper control of your dog at all times. This new legislation is outlined in detail at http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/2142102/dog-control-pspo-signed-order-with-maps-june-2017_part-01.pdf. This Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) also legislates against dog fouling on a public right of way which will include footpaths across agricultural land or open spaces. If found guilty of an offence, you would be liable on
summary conviction to a fine not exceeding Level 3 on the standard scale or a fixed penalty notice of £80.00. Designated Council Officers and Police Community support Officers can issue fixed penalty notices on the spot. However, fixed penalty notices can also be issued if the EDDC receive a witness statement from anyone who sees the offence being committed.
Please be considerate when walking your dog. Remember that by acting as a responsible dog owner you may prevent an unnecessary altercation with a landowner, member of the public or other dog owners.
THE LEGAL POSITION
A dog is generally regarded as a “usual accompaniment” on a public right of way. The dog is not, however entitled to roam away from the path and if it does so, the owner could be guilty of committing trespass against the landowner.
The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 makes it a specific offence to allow a dog to be at large in a field or enclosure where there are sheep. A farmer may have a defence in any civil proceedings for killing or injuring a dog that is caught “worrying” sheep. It is therefore advisable to keep your dog on a lead if you are walking near livestock.
The County Council often receives complaints from dog walkers that they are unable to use a path because they are unable to get their dogs over stiles.
The Highways Act makes provision for landowners to fit stiles and gates on rights of way in the interests of containing livestock.
On a public footpath, a landowner has a duty to provide access for walkers only; he does not have to take account of dogs. It is quite likely that a stile that is lamb proof is also dog proof.
In some areas, dog friendly stiles may have been fitted either by the landowner or by the Council or volunteers acting on their behalf. However, this is not common practice as the landowner has to be in agreement and also because of the additional cost involved in providing this type of furniture.
If you wish to take your dog with you, it is advisable to check out the proposed route before hand, to ensure that it is suitable. On no account must you damage any fencing or hedge adjacent to a stile in order to get your dog through as this could amount to an offence of criminal damage.
RESPONSIBLE DOG OWNERSHIP
The Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996 allows local authorities to designate most public land as areas where it is illegal to allow your dog to foul without cleaning up after it. If found guilty of an offence, you could be fined up to £1000.00 Although this legislation does not cover agricultural land, the County Council would strongly advise that this responsible behaviour is adopted whilst using the public right of way network.
Remember worm eggs in the dog faeces can cause health problems. It is advisable for all owners to worm their dogs regularly as well as picking up and disposing of their faeces.
ACCESS TO OPEN COUNTRY – RIGHT TO ROAM
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW), provides for areas of mapped access land where the public will be entitled, possibly under restrictions, to enter for recreational purposes. Restrictions on dogs may be applied in these areas. Certain bodies such as The National Trust have statutory powers to make bylaws regulating activity on land they own, including access for dogs. You would be advised to enquire with the relevant body before visiting with dogs.
IDENTIFICATION – Don’t forget that under The Control of Dogs Order 1992, whilst in a public place, dogs must wear a collar with an identification tag bearing the owner’s name and address. This would apply whilst walking on a public right of way.