A St Andrews community councillor has called on the community’s dog owners to pull together to bring their dogs under control.
Dr Gordon Shepherd’s appeal came after he witnessed and heard of incidents with loose dogs “bounding and barking” around youngsters, invading gardens, endangering cyclists, and invading sensitive wildlife areas.
And just days after he made his appeal, local councillor Brian Thomson himself became the victim of a doggy assault, being bowled over and injuring his knee while out running.
“Having been a dog owner in the past for over 30 years I have no problem with dogs,” Dr Shepherd said, adding: “Sadly, a rising percentage of dog owners think it is acceptable for their pets to roam distant from their control and other walkers and cyclists have no way of knowing ‘it is very friendly’.”
“This is about getting the community together and saying this behaviour is not acceptable,” Dr Shepherd continued, “the Scottish Outdoor Access Code’s guidance on dogs advises that in public places owners should avoid causing concern to others by keeping dogs close at heel or on a short lead.
“Perhaps all that is needed is a few notices on paths and beaches highlighting this guidance.”
Dr Shepherd was critical of owners who allow their pets to get to far from them to be under control: “Dog owners need to understand tht some of us don’t want any attention from their dogs and should allow them to get away from their control.”
After his experience, Cllr Thomson had sympathy for Dr Shepherd’s campaign: “I can sympathize with Gordon Shepherd’s concerns, particularly as just a matter of days after Gordon raised the matter at the Community Council meeting, I was knocked over by a large dog on the North Haugh whilst out running, and left with a swollen knee.
“If it had been a child that was struck, it could have been a much more serious injury.”
Cllr Thomson said it was the first time he had ever been struck and knocked over whilst running, and it’s clearly a very small minority of people who don’t control their dogs properly.
“Gordon’s raised his concerns with Council officers and whilst I’m not sure about what preventative measures could be taken, it’s essential that any such incidents are reported to the Council’s Dog Warden Service, who will then carry out a full investigation.”
Fife Council’s safer community services team, who run the dog warden service, has offered to attend a future St Andrews Community Coucil meeting to bring members up to date with their service, and is also looking into incidents reported to them.