In defence of walking dogs

I AM a dog owner and the granny of two girls aged seven and nine. Taking my granddaughters and dog to Hinchingbrooke Park as often as we possibly can gives all four of us more pleasure than I can possibly describe. In the winter and even on gloomy summer

I AM a dog owner and the granny of two girls aged seven and nine. Taking my granddaughters and dog to Hinchingbrooke Park as often as we possibly can gives all four of us more pleasure than I can possibly describe.

In the winter and even on gloomy summer days, we, along with other dog owners, are quite often the only people enjoying the beauty of the park. It would be such a shame if the park were excluded to dog walkers as it would so often, indeed for the majority of the year, be quite empty but for these people.

Surely we are supposed to be encouraging exercise and outdoor pursuits, and it is quite delightful to see the dog and the children running free alongside one another across the park.

Likewise, we are told, petting a dog has many therapeutic benefits. I believe that seeing dogs and children together will help those people gain confidence who previously might have been somewhat nervous.

I could never give my 40kg Labrador enough exercise on a lead if I were to spend the whole of every day walking him. He would end up very frustrated and I would be totally exhausted.

Also, in my long experience of dog ownership, I would categorically state that more aggression is demonstrated by dogs on leads than those unleashed.

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And lastly, should we be separating children and animals? Will this not engender even more fear and misunderstanding?

I also draw readers' attention to the disabled dog owners who use the electric scooters available in the park to enjoy dog walking. Their dogs always run free, and rightly so.

Perhaps a solution might be to designate certain areas of the park where dogs might be exercised off the lead. After all, it is a very extensive area and that way those people who do not wish to be exposed to dogs enjoying themselves could avoid those designated areas.

Dog walking is such a social activity both for the dogs and their owners. A dog that socialises and plays with other dogs is a very happy dog and, while they are doing just that, it is a great opportunity for their owners to socialise likewise.

Please do not take this pleasure away. By all means penalise owners who behave irresponsibly but do not banish dog owners from giving their dogs the wonderful freedom and beauty at Hinchingbrooke Park.

PAT PRINCE, Lenton Close, Brampton

* WOOD Green Animal Shelters would like to respond to the recent articles in The Hunts Post regarding the dog control orders proposed by Huntingdonshire Council.

Despite press coverage, it is still unclear as to the exact nature of the proposals put forward by the council. Nevertheless, Wood Green is encouraged by the degree of debate that the issue has initiated within the local community.

Wood Green advocates responsible pet ownership at all times, whether on the lead or off, and certainly agrees with the proposed order regarding the fouling of land.

The new Animal Welfare Act, which came into force in April this year, states that all pet owners have a duty of care, which highlights that all pets should be given the freedom to exhibit normal behaviour.

The charity is concerned that the proposals set out by Huntingdonshire District Council are contrary to the spirit of this act.

We urge the council to look into its proposals to ensure that all can enjoy the open spaces Huntingdonshire has to offer. In particular, the charity would urge the council to examine an alternative route - educating rather than enforcement, which appears to be the preference.

CLIVE BYLES, Director of operations, Wood Green Animal Shelters, Godmanchester

* I WAS most annoyed and concerned that HDC is planning zones in local parks and open spaces where we have to keep our dogs on leads. I do agree in children's play areas but not where we dog-owners can let them have a good run and play off-lead.

I own two very well-behaved dogs, and there is nothing more enjoyable after a day's work than walking my dogs and watching them run and play. I have always cleaned up my dogs' faeces and have been walking my dogs in Hinchingbrooke Park for the last 15 years.

It's a pity these jobsworths on HDC haven't opened their eyes to more important things such as litter, high rent and rates on new shops in Huntingdon, which will stay empty for who knows how long, and try to make Huntingdon a nice place to live and visit.

If the concern is people who do not collect their dogs' faeces now, what makes them think they will when dogs are restricted to lead walking.

It seems these days all our rights are being taken away from us little by little.

Mrs J A WILLIAMS, Huntingdon Road, Easton

* I FULLY support the proposed dog control orders. I am a responsible dog owner. 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 the Riverside Park in St Neots, and I would like the dogs-on-leads order to be extended to include Regatta Meadow, off Crosshall Road, where many children use the open space to play football etc and where loose dogs are a constant annoyance.

As always, it is the irresponsible minority of people who spoil the enjoyment of the majority

J TEAGUE, Milton Avenue, Eaton Ford

* I HAVE had the same problem as Emma Stephens (Letters, September 5) of being shouted at when my bitch was squatting for a wee. The most recent one was from a woman who was driving past, drove into the entrance of the park and shouted across to me. This was done as she was passing a school crossing on a busy road. She must have been driving while watching my dog, and not watching where she was going. Just imagine if a child had been crossing at the time.

I also clear up dog's mess, as do most responsible dog-owners that I know.

Mrs CAREN KIPLING, The Furrows, St Ives

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