We British are a nation of dog lovers, aren’t we? Sure, they smell a bit, they slobber over you, they have a somewhat vulgar way of greeting each other and they produce a disagreeable waste product. But we love them just the same.
You can’t help chuckling over dogs’ crazy antics on the O2 “Be More Dog” trailers on telly.
And many a spouse has declared: “Either that dog goes or I go”, only to get an answer they didn’t like.
So it was hardly surprising the area’s dog owners have been getting hot under the collar – forgive the pun – over rumours that Ribble Valley Council was about to impose designated dog enclosures in many public park areas and to insist dogs must be kept on a lead at all times.
The council’s Environmental Health chief, Mr James Russell, has had to issue a statement for the Clitheroe Advertiser to allay their fears.
As a former dog owner – I didn’t have the heart to replace my lovely old rough-coated lurcher Kiri after she was put to sleep – I have a lot of sympathy with the dog people.
Increasingly they are seen as pariahs the moment they step on to a piece of grassland and the dog begins to squat. It doesn’t matter if the owner already has a plastic glove on one hand and a poop bag in the other, someone is bound to give them a disdainful glare.
I remember the late 1970s when Burnley Council imposed a total ban on all dogs in all public parks after a series of heated debates.
The pro and anti lobbies became increasingly shrill, there were protest walkies, and two dog owners were even sent to jail for defying the new by-law. That’s what happens when opposing sides become entrenched.
In Ribble Valley, where folk probably have more sense, the dog issue will surely never come to those extremes.
The council aims to compel owners to keep dogs under control in public places and clean up their dog’s muck from designated public land and playing fields. Fail to comply, and it’ll cost up to £1,000. It’s as simple as that.
Some may scream “Red tape!” but one man’s red tape is someone else’s protection. Nobody wants a child to lose their sight to toxocara.
Dog owners are, on the whole, fair-minded and responsible, but are let down by a tiny dimwitted minority.
Mr Russell has said: “The message is simple: The days of allowing dogs to foul in public are over.”
Do I agree with him? Not arf!