Gone to the dogs

I AM at a total loss with this town. I have spent much, time, effort and money trying for two years now to save Huntingdon s best – soon to be last – open flat green space. I use Huntingdon s Riverside Park most days of the year. I belong to the Riverside

I AM at a total loss with this town. I have spent much, time, effort and money trying for two years now to save Huntingdon's best - soon to be last - open flat green space.

I use Huntingdon's Riverside Park most days of the year. I belong to the Riverside Users' Group, helping to arrange picnics, sports days, tree dressing etc.

Many people walk their dogs or simply walk every day. I help to keep it tidy, picking up any glass, plastic, dog mess - there are only a few bad dog-owners - fishing line, anything that might harm wildlife. Small rocks, large stones near the pavilion and boat club (in case kids break windows), even dead rats that have been lying near the football pitches. I love this space. It is very important to me.

I think it is wrong not to clear up after your dog, wherever it might go. It really isn't so difficult, much easier than scraping it off your shoes. I cannot understand why signs cannot be put along the riverside.

But I am totally devastated that it may lead to a fine for letting my four to six dogs off the lead for a few minutes' exercise on the riverside field. I let them run when I feel no other dogs will be affected, and they would rather run away from children but are equally happy to say hello if wanted.

Every dog-owner should know that all dogs need regular daily exercise, and a proportion of that should be off the lead (although never near a road) unless the dog is untrustworthy or a threat to children or other dogs.

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My dogs and a bit of open space are two of the most important things in my life. Have I got to move away from my family and home town to have both? I do not want to have to use a car to walk my dogs.

I was born in Primrose Lane (soon to be even more housing) in 1960 and have seen so much space being swallowed up. Why can't car parking space be found in some of the large wasted area behind the police station? Why is Mill Common left untouched? This would make a lovely proper town park, where dogs may be allowed and perhaps a few trees.


The Paddock


ONE of your correspondents (September 19) wrote: "I always keep our own dog on a lead and clear up after her. I am fed up with constantly being harassed by loose dogs on Riverside Park".

Of course we must all clear up after our dogs in the same way as we pick up our own litter, but I wonder whether the writer's dog, if it were able, would endorse this sentiment. I feel there is a pertinent point being completely overlooked here.

Dogs are living, breathing life-forces with intelligence and emotion.

They are essentially pack animals and nature never intended that they should live in isolation from other dogs. It may well be easier to keep them permanently on a lead but is that not just a little cruel?

Anyone who has witnessed the interaction between dogs running free and greeting each other with the total joy and abandonment that is particular to them will have been caught up in that ecstasy and it will have made their day just a little bit brighter.

There are so few places left where dogs are allowed to walk untethered and so many where they must be kept on leads. I am not familiar, so would not comment about Riverside Park and the St Neots area but in Brampton, Hinchingbrooke is one of the last bastions of freedom. Those wishing to walk for miles with their dogs tethered have the whole of Grafham Water, where there is a positive abundance of signs saying dogs must be kept on leads.

I accept that Hinchingbrooke could be sectioned so that one could impose dogs-on-leads on the green that surrounds the children's play area. There is in fact already such a stipulation in the wildlife area at the park, but surely over the bridge and around the lake one could allow dogs off the lead.

Whilst I do not want to come over as Orwellian, I would like to pose this question: why come to one of the very few parks in East Anglia that allow dogs to walk off the lead if you don't want to encounter them when there are plenty of other beautiful areas that will protect you from the unshackled dog?


St George's Close


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