Health issues for dogs and owners

SIR - I am extremely concerned about the proposed new dog control orders suggested by Torridge District Council. I accept that dog ownership should bring with it responsibility. Dog owners should always clean up after their dogs, disposing of waste in app

SIR - I am extremely concerned about the proposed new dog control orders suggested by Torridge District Council.I accept that dog ownership should bring with it responsibility. Dog owners should always clean up after their dogs, disposing of waste in appropriate bins (if they are lucky enough to find one!). I own two dogs and fully recognise the need to keep them on leads on roads, verges, public places and so on, and ensuring they are always under control and never a nuisance to people or other dogs.However, animal welfare dictates that dogs need exercise involving off-the-lead freedom to run and play. However healthy and energetic the owner, dogs have more speed and energy than lead walking could provide. Indeed, problem dogs are often so because they have not been given sufficient exercise and stimulation. The restrictions Torridge proposes would inevitably mean more frustrated animals who could demonstrate this frustration in problem behaviour and unacceptable traits.Another very important point is that a lot of elderly people have dogs as companions to ward off loneliness. I know of several people who have physical and mental health issues for which their dogs and the social life that comes with walking them are their link with 'normality' - a reason to go on. Because of the slower pace of life dictated by their owners' age or physical fitness, there is a need for spaces where dogs can run safely and use up excess energy.Speaking personally, I am disabled and not able to move quickly enough - if my dogs are on leads - for them to get sufficient quality exercise. It is essential for people like me that there are open spaces, parks and beaches for dogs to run, under control, but free.Maybe Torridge Council could better use their resources by encouraging RESPONSIBLE dog ownership. I personally feel that if more people owned and exercised a dog, the benefits might well reduce their need for medical and social care in the future - a potential financial saving for the Council.Mags Harrington, South Molton.

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