Calls for Coronavirus rules to be eased for dog walkers from RSPCA
THE RSPCA has renewed calls for local authorities to consider easing some locally-imposed rules on where dogs can be exercised to help dog walkers comply with lockdown rules and stop the spread of Covid-19.
Many Councils across England and Wales have previously introduced Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs), which often include strict rules on where dogs cannot be walked. There have long been fears that this can restrict suitable dog walking spots in some local communities.
In England, as of 5 January, people may only exercise once a day, though multiple people from the same household can use this daily exercise to walk the same dog.
These restrictions can create issues for dog walkers who may have local options for exercising their canine companions curtailed by PSPOs. There is concern this could encourage some people to travel to find suitable dog walking spots for their animals – potentially unwittingly breaching Covid-19 rules in the interests of their dog’s welfare and exercise needs.
Dr Samantha Gaines, head of the RSPCA’s companion animals department, said: “With England and Wales now both in national lockdowns, there are clear restrictions in place concerning exercise, which will impact many dog walkers.
“With restrictions now back in place on travel for exercise, this can really limit the dog walking options some people have and creates something of a postcode lottery for dogs and their owners – with many PSPOs across England and Wales meaning local marked sports pitches and fields can be out of bounds too for dog walkers.
“If dog owners do not have adequate space to exercise their dogs near their homes, they may make journeys beyond their immediate communities and unwittingly breach Covid-19 rules, aimed to stop the spread of this awful disease. We’re calling on local authorities to be flexible at this time and temporarily relax PSPOs where it is safe and appropriate to do so, to help keep people local and protect dog welfare.”
The RSPCA is also advising the public to keep dogs on leads at this time – to help ensure social distancing and avoid owners having to come into close contact with one another should they have to go and retrieve their dog.