A UK town has been accused of declaring war on dogs after banning pooches from all its parks.
Callington in Cornwall made the drastic decision more than 10 years ago after locals voiced concerns over attacks and mess left by canines. But with the nearest appropriate green space up to an hour away, some residents in the area are now fighting back against the ban. One even wondered whether the town could be "Britain’s most unwelcoming for dogs."
A campaign has been launched by local councillor and dog enthusiast Penny Ward to lift some of the bans and create designated, fenced-off zones for pups to play in at the town's Launceston Road Recreation Ground. In response, MP Sheryll Murray conducted a survey to see what people thought of the proposal – and received mixed results.
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Of the 219 people who responded, about half said pets should be allowed in the proposed fenced-off area, while 10% said dogs should be allowed everywhere. However, another 40% said the total ban should stay.
Meanwhile 42% of respondents said they'd completely avoid the park if dogs and their owners were given a fenced-off area to use, while marginally more – 50% – said they'd use the park more.
Carly Ward, Cllr Ward's daughter, pointed out that while some people had proposed paid dog parks, this wasn't practical either. She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): "There is nowhere in Callington town to take your dog other than pavement walks or to drive outside of the town to other areas.
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"This goes against the 'dog friendly' Cornwall that this county boasts and I believe Callington is the only town in Cornwall where there is a complete ban on dogs entering parks.
"Callington is a deprived area and to pay to use a dog field is not practical or possible for many. Could Callington be Britain’s most unwelcoming town for dogs?"
Cllr Ward made an application in November 2022 to have an area in the Launceston Road Recreation Ground fenced off and made "dog friendly". The bid was previously rejected by the council as there was a Public Space Protection Order on the recreation ground, which included a dog exclusion order.
However, this expires next month, sparking new hope for dog owners in the area. From October 15, Cllr Ward hopes to see about one-third of the field fenced off.
In a presentation to the town council, Cllr Ward said: "Cornwall is every dog’s heaven on earth. It is a doggy paradise. Dogs are allowed in most places such as beaches, pubs, hotels, cafes, restaurants, most public parks, even areas of the Eden Project and other attractions… except Callington.
"There is nowhere in Callington town where you can take your dog for a walk either on or off the lead other than pavement walks."
But despite the new-found hope, Callington Mayor Peter Watson said proposals for a dog walking area had already been rejected twice.
"The councillors’ concerns about this proposal included public health issues, the potential risk to other users in particular families and young children, and the potential costs which would fall on all parishioners (i.e. an increase in local tax rate)," he said last month.
"All of these points taken together with the fact that other areas for the exercising of dogs are available within the parish and in the immediate vicinity [means] the council did not feel it was in the interests of the majority of parishioners to support the proposal."
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