Dog owners and families have given their backing to a new crackdown on nuisance dogs across Doncaster.
A Public Space Protection Order has been brought in which will see new powers to take action against irresponsible owners whose pets cause problems for the public in parks and other open areas.
The PSPO is made up of five orders that address key issues – dog fouling, wearing leads in certain areas and dogs being prohibited from certain areas.
The order will ban dogs from areas including children's playgrounds which are fenced off within public parks.
It will also mean owners can be ordered to put their pets on a lead if they are close to an organised event, anything from a public fun day to a Sunday league football match.
And it will mean that owners taking their pets for a walk could potentially be fined if they are not carrying a bag for picking up any dog waste. It is understood this power is likely to be used for crackdowns where a particular issue has been identified.
It means dog fouling will be illegal in all areas of the borough that are open to the public, and not just council owned land.
Other areas, including cemeteries and churchyards, will now have a ‘leads must be worn’ ruling, which makes it clear that dogs must not be off the lead at any time.
Cabinet Member for Communities, the Voluntary Sector and Environment, Coun Chris McGuinness, said: “I want to make it very clear that this PSPO is not about punishing or criminalising responsible dog owners, nor is it a money-making scheme for the council. As always, our enforcement officers will be using their common sense when they enforce the PSPO and will not be handing out fines left right and centre to people who do keep control of their dog.
Owner walking their pets in Elmfield Park were supportive of the plans.
Rod Matthew, aged 61, of South Parade, who has a mongrel called Jack, said he thought it was a brilliant move. He said: "I live near a grass area that's fenced off, with a children's play area, but it's being used as a doggy toilet. There is a sign up saying no dogs, but people are just ignoring it. This will only work if it is enforced."
Another owner, Peter Smith, aged 69, of Town Moor, was in the park with his mongrel, Barney. He also raised enforcement as an issue, although he was also backing the new rules.
He said: "You rarely see a dog warden. But I think it is right that a dog needs to be on a lead for a big event, like the Town Field Gala, although I would not have my dog on a lead all the time if it was a long way from such things unless I'm crossing the road.
"It is hard to catch people not picking up dog poo, so taking action over people who do not carry a bag is better, although there may be people who carry one and don't use it. Town Fields used to have a dog walking area, but it was too small so they just got lots of fights."
Carolyn Joyce, aged 32, of Edlington, was walking her chihuahua, Gizmo. She said: "I think these are quite reasonable. If people have not got a bag, they will not clear up, and that's dangerous.
"Near where I live, the council has done a lot to improve the old slag heap at Edlington Wood, but it seems that there a lot there who don't clear up after their dogs. The council's done a lot ot make it into a nice walk, but it's ruined by dog dirt."
Mum of two Lenka Zigoua, aged 27, of Hyde Park backed the moves. She said: "I think it is a good thing to keep dogs out of the children's play areas. Dogs can scare the children."
Alison Carter, aged 30, of Balby, is a dog owner and a mum of a five year old boy, Kian, and she backed the new powers.
She said: "Where we live the children's play area needs to be kept clean. We have a field with a playground in the middle of it, which we call the Bullring, at Waverley Avenue. There are people who play football on there, and also people who walk their dogs, and you don't know what's going to be on the ground. I've not seen dogs in the play area but I support powers to stop it."
Her mum June Carter, aged 66, also backed the new powers. She said: "We have to keep play areas clean and germ free. It's all about children being able to play outside."