PUBLIC STATEMENT BY VETS,
Dog Trainers and Behaviourists, and other Dog Professionals
- More and more vets and other dog professionals (trainers, behaviourists, etc) are endorsing the aims of the Dogs Unleashed campaign. Here is their public statement, with endorsements to date:
- Dogs need to be exercised off leash for their health and well-being, both physical and mental. They need to run and socialise freely with other dogs.
- Some dogs may develop nervous and/or aggressive behaviour when kept on a leash all the time. Frustration at not being able to interact freely can also result in aggression either towards other dogs or other species.
- Allowing dogs off leash in enclosed spaces (dog pens) does not suit all types of dog. The mixture of large versus small dogs, some timid and others boisterous, can lead to nervous and aggressive behaviour developing. Such dog pens can play a role (e.g. for dogs not yet fully trained), but only in addition to – not substituting for – free off-leash exercise.
- The building of dog pens in four public parks to date seems to have been done with little consultation with dog owners, who should have a say in their location within the parks, as well as their size and terrain (small flat grassy areas are not suitable for dogs, who need varied grounds for exercise, water in which to swim and different scents for stimulation). Given the size of some public parks such as Marlay or Shanganagh, we see no reason why a much larger area of varied terrain could not be dedicated to dog walkers as an additional facility.
- The use of dog pens as the only areas in which dogs can be let off leash is potentially dangerous from a health point of view since with such concentrated usage all year round, disease and parasites (e.g. ticks and worms) can build up in the soil and the area act as a breeding ground for diseases, such as kennel cough.
- We encourage all owners to clean up after their dogs. Those who do not are making life difficult for all responsible dog owners.
- EU policy on animal welfare is centred on providing animals under our care with 5 ‘freedoms’, the 4th of which is – Freedom to express normal behaviour, with adequate space and facilities, and suitable company.
- For all the above reasons, it is our opinion as vets of many years’ experience that the current bye-laws for both Parks and Beaches in Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County need to be amended so that dogs can be off leash at certain times of the day and the year, and under the effective control of their owners. This would be fair and reasonable, and in line with other neighbouring Councils, such as Fingal County and Dublin City.