Keep your dogs under control or face the courts
PUBLISHED: 16:27 17 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:57 07 September 2010
PARK rangers at Kenwood House have called on dog owners to get their four-legged friends under control after a spate of wildlife killings. Two weeks ago an out-of-control dog mauled a fox to death next to the Wood Pond - an area of the Kenwood
PARK rangers at Kenwood House have called on dog owners to get their four-legged friends under control after a spate of wildlife killings.
Two weeks ago an out-of-control dog mauled a fox to death next to the Wood Pond - an area of the Kenwood House grounds deemed a site of special scientific interest. And the day before, a different dog killed a Mallard duck in the pond.
English Heritage, which manages the house and surrounding grounds, has called on dog owners to obey the by-laws which demand dogs are kept on their leads.
Freddie Duke, ranger supervisor at Kenwood House, said: "It is absolutely horrific how much wildlife has been lost over the years.
"The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of dog owners abide by the by-laws but there is a small minority, some of whom are regular visitors and some of whom are first time visitors, who don't see the sense of keeping their dog on a lead and just ignore us when we point it out.
"There are consequences of people not keeping their pets under control.
"Prosecution would be our last resort. We would prefer people to obey the by-laws, but if they don't we will have to prosecute."
Last July a Staffordshire bull terrier viscously attacked a vixen and her two fox cubs. All three had to be put down when vets from the RSPCA found they had broken backs.
In October last year a lurcher killed a swan at the Wood Pond.
In January this year a visitor was bitten by a dog, in February a Shar Pei (a Chinese fighting dog) attacked a poodle, and another fox was killed by a fox terrier.
Mr Duke said staff have been verbally abused and threatened by some members of the public when they have told them to put their dogs on leads.
He said: "I think some of these people literally just don't think. It is common sense that you keep your dog on a lead near wildlife, if there is a risk of your pet attacking it."
English Heritage has been liaising with the City of London Corporation, which manages Hampstead Heath, and the wildlife crime unit of the Metropolitan Police.
A City of London spokeswoman said: "The majority of dog walkers are responsible and they are very welcome on the Heath.
"But they must ensure that their pets are kept under control at all times. Attacks on wildlife are taken seriously and staff will investigate and, where appropriate, take action."
At Kenwood dogs are meant to be kept on leads on the lawn between the house and the Thousand Pound Pond.
Tony Ghilchik, chairman of the Heath sub-committee of the Heath and Hampstead Society, said: "I disagree with the rule. They are focussing on the lead rather than the dog.
"The dogs must be under control and the owners need to be trained for that."