It is with utter disbelief that I read the article in this week’s Gazette regarding dog-walking zones and the possibility of introducing a “lead only” rule on Instow beach (“Anger over ‘dog ban’ proposals”, January 30).

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I appreciate enforcement of dog walking zones on Westward Ho! beach during the summer months, as it is one of the prime spots for tourism in the Torridge area, offers safe bathing and the sheer size of the beach means there is plenty of space for dogs and seaside goers alike.

However, the same cannot be said for Instow beach. Although it is an aesthetically pleasing spot, especially at sunset, it is far from “Blue Flag” status (and I don’t think ever could be due to discharge into the river Torridge). It does not have a lifeguard and has dangerous river currents.

When will councils realise that by banning dogs from running free in one area (Victoria Park last year as a case in point) that this simply concentrates dogs into another area?

Restrict dogs on Instow and then where will they go? Descend on the rugby pitch/cricket square behind Victoria Park where players will have to wade through canine faeces “forgotten” by irresponsible dog owners?

The Tarka Trail, where more dogs will be a serious hazard to cyclists? Open fields or the Burrows where there could potentially be a higher risk to livestock? Dogs need space to run in order to receive sufficient levels of exercise.

While walking on the lead is a mild form of exercise, for certain breeds it is not enough and this in turn can lead to frustration and misbehaviour, at worst aggressiveness.

It is not fair on the dog to deny its daily exercise requirement, from both a health and behavioural standpoint.

Various reasons are quoted for enforcing these laws, from frightening young children to dog mess. Well, I am afraid to tell you that it is not the dog’s fault – the onus falls squarely on the shoulders of the owner.

Do councils really think that forcing dogs to be kept on a lead will stop them from doing their business? Of course not. It is down to the owner to pick up.

Similarly, if a dog is running out of control then it should be kept on a lead or the owner should seek training for the dog.

It is the mindless minority of irresponsible dog owners that spoils things for all of us.

Surely today, when plenty of people have a mobile phone, councils should be asking for video evidence from the public in order to confront these irresponsible owners.

Maybe then we can all enjoy North Devon’s open spaces together.

W Knowles

Bideford

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