Too many dogs spoil the park


Regular readers may remember my rant about the new playground in The Carrs and the alarmingly high cost, about £25,000, charged to The Carrs Section 106 piggy bank. ("Section 106" usually refers to money paid by developers in association with planning issues.)

As predicted, dogs are finding the playground just as attractive as kiddies do, so a wooden fence is to be erected, again made of very special wood, and at the very special cost (again to the Carrs piggy bank) of £5,000.

There will be an access gap followed by a wobbly log bridge that may deter some pooches, but I doubt if a determined dog will find it much of a problem.

This is just one consequence of the increased dog population – we would not have to build dog-proof fences and spend such daft sums of money but for the sheer number of dogs.

Our park is rapidly becoming a dog-walkers' paradise and many regard it as a more important resource for dogs than humans. As an example, a few weeks ago, my daughter was in The Carrs enjoying a "buggy fit" class for new mums when a dog came wandering around the mums and children. When the teacher politely asked if the owner could keep his dog away, he responded that they had no right to be there and that "this is a park for dogs". An extreme case, but you get the idea.

It would not be so bad if we just had personal pets, on leads, with one owner per dog. But that is often not the case. Busy people go to work, leaving their dogs locked up all day, except for an hour or so when, for lucky dogs, professional dog walkers turn up. Not just one dog per dog walker, but up to a dozen at a time, many running free and doing what dogs do. Plus those brought from far and wide to exploit the freedom to run around at will.

In Manchester's parks, dogs must be on leads - not so in Wilmslow - and it's just a short trip from Wythenshawe for dog owners to take advantage of our lax regulations. "Ooh, it's lovely here," said a recent visitor. "So nice to let our dogs have a good run". And a good unattended poo, she might as well have added.

Although there are many responsible dog owners, a considerable minority still do not clear up their dog mess, thereby creating a considerable risk to children who play in The Carrs. There are other problems: many of us find such large numbers of dogs quite threatening and their constant barking at busy times really does ruin the potential peacefulness of our park. As a final problem, as if one were needed, dogs are allowed to run into the Bollin and this is causing severe damage to the fragile, sandy river banks.

So, what's to be done? Well, Alderley Edge park has "Dogs must be on leads" notices which are obeyed by virtually all owners. It seems unlikely that Wilmslow's open spaces are subject to different by-laws from those in Alderley Edge - so I wonder why dogs are allowed to roam free in The Carrs? Are our Councillors too timid?

County-wide legislation would solve the problem. Just think – less dog mess, no dogs jumping up at you to be "friendly", and less damage to the river banks. A win-win solution!

This is a member post by Graham Beech.

Graham Beech, The Carrs


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Susan Luya
Tuesday 10th May 2011 at 2:47 pm
I walk my dog in the Carrs. She doesn't go into the river, I clean up any mess she makes and she doesn't jump up on people - and nor does she bark. I don't see the "solution" as win-win at all... and I don't know what a "buggy-fit" class is either. I agree the gentleman whose dog wandered into a group of people should have had better control of his dog but the suggested limitations above are prohibitive and restrictive and very very unwelcome.
Kate Branagan
Tuesday 10th May 2011 at 3:07 pm
I can see both sides of the argument. I have two Labradors who I walk regularly at the Carrs. Yes I clean up after them and I have full control of their behaviour. It is not only dogs that go in the Bollin but children so do we stop them from enjoying a swim in a river?

I live in Alderley Edge and many dogs are allowed off their leads in our park but are kept under close control.

However, I do agree that large packs of dogs under the "control" of one dog walker (many of whom are friends of mine) can be a bit off putting to non dog owners and lots of dogs barking can be quite intimidating.

However restraining dogs on leads can lead to other problems - which most dog owners will be aware of such as protection of owners etc

One better solution would be to re-introduce dog licences to encourage more responsible ownership.
Dave Wood
Tuesday 10th May 2011 at 3:23 pm
Again, I am a local dog walker, who enjoys the scenic walk through the Carrs. Although I let my dog play & run off lead, she always stays close, and never runs amock.

I could never understand why any form of fencing was not errected on building the play area, as this does not keep any form of pet, wild animals (foxes) or teenagers out of this area.

I understand the concern of parents not wanting dogs fowling in the play area, or the park in a whole, and I would comment on all the dog walkers that I have met over the years, they are all kitted out with "poo bags", and tidy up after there pets.

Whilst I am on this subject, I can always tell when it is school/bank holidays, as the litter bins are consistantly overflowing with picnic/bbq litter. The users of the park, do actually wrap all their waste in plastic bags, but as the bins are overflowing, they place on the ground next to the bins, which results in the bags being ripped open by wild animals, and blowing around the Carrs. If they have already taken time to wrap up waste in plastic bags, maybe they could take the litter home with them.

Might I suggest extra bins dotted around the full area of the Carrs, and not waste money £30,000 on overpriced wood. Use normal hard waring wood for the play area.
Lets keep the Carrs open to ALL (Dog Walkers, Children, Photographers, Keep Fit Enthusiasts, Buggy-Fit Classes, Walkers), and enjoy the beautifull surroundings.

More bins & dog waste bins please.
Vince Chadwick
Tuesday 10th May 2011 at 5:24 pm
Of course only the responsible dog owners will comment on here; but they are not the problem. We need that 'dogs must be on a lead' legislation in Wilmslow because unfortunately, the irresponsible ones will continue to make life unpleasant for everyone else without it.
Stephanie Sankey
Tuesday 10th May 2011 at 9:06 pm
Susan, a Buggy-fit class is an outdoor fitness class for Mums who have recently had a baby. They can bring the baby in its buggy to the class and exercises are done using the buggy as a prop.

I used to walk a friend's dog around the Carrs and also noticed the groups of dogs being walked by one paid dog-walker. I don't agree with it really - if you are prepared to have a dog, you should be prepared to walk him/her yourself!!!!
Oliver Romain
Wednesday 11th May 2011 at 8:55 pm
Most dog owners are responsible, however, the minority of irresponsible dog owners are causing uneccessary problems. I too have been told by a dog owner that 'its a dog park' when politely asking a owner to remove his bulldog from my baby's blanket! Since when does a dog take priority over a baby?

I also have had a similar problem in the picnic area with owners; who let their dogs free to interfere with picnics and children and get upset when you are forced to shoo them (the dogs) away.

I understand other nearby local councils do not allow dogs off leads so owners come to our parks to let their dogs run which only exacerbates the problem.

I have nothing against dog owners and rather fancy owning a dog myself, however, I believe we should have areas set aside for free-running dogs and the rest of the park restricted to dogs on leads so that residents can reclaim the Carrs and save the river.
Dog damage will cost the council tens of thousands in river bank repair, we simply can't afford to do nothing whilst the river bank crumbles.
Vic Barlow
Sunday 15th May 2011 at 8:28 pm
This is all a question of mutual respect and education.
It's important that dog owners have their dogs under good control at all times for everyone's benefit (including the dogs).
Until my dogs come back to me instantly on command I never allow them off lead.
All dogs need to learn to respect people and people (incl children should learn to respect dogs).
There are as many wild children as dogs and neither are acceptable.
As for cleaning up after your dog. It's a given. Dogs are very clean animals and hate soiling their own space so it's the least we can to to ensure they don't soil anyone else's.

Sorry to go on but any time I visit the cars after a public holiday it's festooned with trash, bottles and debris left by irresponsible visitors. This is a serious issue. Broken bottles and cans can and do cause serious injury is it too difficult to take rubbish home or drop it in the nearest bin?
Have a great week and enjoy your dog.