DON'T BE A JOBSWORTH USE COMMON SENSE AND COMPASSION INSTEADFri, 28 Oct 2016
Apologies for the title but I am sure that outright profanities would be totally unacceptable to head this article.
At a recent meeting about Public Space Protection Orders or PSPO's as they are usually known, I was shocked to find that the visually impaired gentleman sitting next to me with his Guide Dog had been issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice by what can only be described as an uninformed Dog Warden, 'somewhere in England', so Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish dog control colleagues feel free to sit in judgement on this.
The gentleman in question was only able to take his Guide Dog to a particular area to exercise her.  Unfortunately the local council created a Dog Control Order to exclude dogs due allegedly to attacks on wildlife.  Which part of the DCO guidance did the council not read to see that a registered blind person, a deaf person using a hearing dog and those disabled persons who used an Assistance Dog could not be made subject to a dog exclusion order?
The Dog Wardens issued the gentleman a Fixed Penalty Notice for bringing a dog into an area from which dogs had been excludedwhy did they do this?
In a nutshell the reason is that those Dog Wardens, their Councillors, Managers and Legal Department are clearly inadequately aware of the legislation that they are enforcing. Why would they be requesting Assistance Dog users to leave beaches, play areas, dog exclusion areas and also issuing fixed penalty notices against Assistance Dogs?
Are they further aware that they must also be breaching the Disability Discrimination Act?
The National Dog Warden Association will rightly defend dog control colleagues from undue criticism and pressure from all comers but where there is appalling behaviour such as the targeting of Assistance Dogs, NDWA will be critical of such inappropriate actions from local authority colleagues.
All local authorities should take note of the problems that blanket ban PSPO's cause to all Assistance Dogs and their users.  As a rule an Assistance Dog is not going to be a problem when it is out and about working or even when it is being exercised.  After all they are highly trained dogs that have a specific role to carry out.
NDWA calls for all local authorities that have PSPO making powers to make provision for Assistance Dogs to be excluded from the conditions of a PSPO.  All legitimate Assistance Dog users will have an identification card to that effect on them if there is any concern regarding the nature of the Assistance Dog.
Rather than blindly following incorrect procedures the enforcing officer could also use two other things, common sense and compassion when on duty.
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