Waterlow dog walkers are a comforting presence

Many who enjoy walking their dogs in Waterlow Park may be unaware that they could soon be banned from doing just that. Camden Council is proposing new by-laws which mean that dogs would have to be kept on leads in its parks and open spaces in all planting

Many who enjoy walking their dogs in Waterlow Park may be unaware that they could soon be banned from doing just that. Camden Council is proposing new by-laws which mean that dogs would have to be kept on leads in its parks and open spaces in all planting and shrubbery areas, catering areas including picnic areas, all water features, play, sports and conservation areas. I think that just about covers the whole of Waterlow Park.

This would be catastrophic for the many dog walkers, especially the elderly, for whom Hampstead Heath may be too far, and for those who prefer the environment of a municipal park. But others would lose out as well.

It is well established that dog walkers, who may be out and about when others are not, act like a Neighbourhood Watch on the move. And solitary walkers in Waterlow Park on a grey winter's morning can surely only be comforted by the presence of regular dog walkers?

To walk a dog permanently on the lead would be cruel.


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Yet a dog on the lead is not necessarily a dog under control. What about those who parade snarling beasts, reared to inculcate terror in others, on the end of a thick chain lead and spiked collar? In N6, it is other dog owners who are the first to point out aberrant canine behaviour and dog mess left unscooped. (Camden's proposed measures to deal with those who don't clean up after their dogs will be welcomed).

Strangely, not one of the list of right-on groups with whom Camden is consulting on its Dog Control Order Notice is related to dogs - no dog walking groups, vets, animal rescue organisations etc. However, the views of minority ethnic groups, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender groups are being canvassed.

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Polite dog walking society is one of the most inclusive groups you could meet (as the gentleman who appeared a while back dressed as Miss Marple will have found) but there is a simmering resentment in Highgate that they are not part of the consultation.

Having had two successive pairs of soppy but biddable rescued golden retrievers, I have been much cheered by the affection so many people in Highgate showed them when they were alive and the commiserations (often from strangers) when they departed.

We really are a nation of dog lovers and Waterlow Park would be a poorer place without their joyous presence.

Moira Petty

Southwood Lane, N6

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