Dog free, not ban
PUBLISHED: 07:10 09 May 2014
I've read with interest the correspondence that followed my letter regarding a dog-free zone on the beach ("How about this?", Opinion, March, 13).
I note some dog owners have translated my request for a dog-free area into a ‘dog ban’ on the beach.
That is not what I was suggesting. The area I suggested is less than 10 per cent of the beach, and would therefore have almost no impact on dogs or their owners.
My suggestion reflects the fact that, with the exception of Easter, during the seven-month period with no dog ban, dog walkers substantially outnumber other beachgoers (why is open to conjecture, of course).
I noted with particular interest the letter from Chloe Fox (“Fear of dogs is being indulged”, Opinion, April 24), which confirms beyond doubt that there is conflict between dogs and other beach users.
This surely supports the idea that a SMALL area of the beach should be dog-free year round, to prevent such conflict.
It would also reduce the risk of dog owners facing compensation claims from other beachgoers.
This is not exaggeration, noting that more than 6,700 hospital admissions a year result from ‘dog bites and strikes’ in England (Health and Social Care Information Centre data), a figure that is increasing rapidly.
There are presumably many more injuries that do not result in hospital admission, but may well result in compensation claims against the dog owner.
I would suggest that East Devon District Council actually has a duty of care to ensure that in making and enforcing the dog control orders that apply on the beach, they minimise the risk to other beach users.
One way of achieving this would be to ban non-dog owners from the beach (to include children). The other would be to follow my suggestion.
Of the two, I think a dog-free area would be more compatible with attempts to increase the number of visitors to Exmouth, and would in itself encourage more visitors.