Aims of the strategy

To protect public health and public safety from the adverse actions of dogs and less responsible dog owners. To protect the welfare of animals including dogs. To support the welfare of people through responsible dog ownership.

Background to the proposal

The former district and borough councils had a range of legislative controls (including Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) to control the behaviour/actions of dogs and owners in public spaces. These requirements impose controls on dog owner’s in order to safeguard public health and safety, the safety of animals and maintain the quality of the environment for the local residents. These have carried through into Dorset Council and are now due for review. It is proposed to introduce a harmonised and simplified single Dog-related PSPO to give greater consistency and clarity about the control of dogs in public spaces which will benefit residents and visitors. 

Types of controls can include; 

  • removal of dog fouling
  • exclusion of dogs from certain public spaces either permanently or during specified periods
  • requirement for dogs to be kept on-lead permanently or during specified periods
  • requirement for dogs to be on-lead when required by an Authorised Officer of the council
  • specifying the maximum lead length where on-lead controls exist
  • specifying the number of dogs to be walked at any one time (usually used for commercial walkers where large numbers exists – usually in urban parks)
  • any other dog related restriction that meets the legal test and ensures the control of a dog in a specified area or controls antisocial behaviour from dogs and less responsible owners. 

The Order will be in force for a period of 3-years after which it is due for statutory review. 

Intelligence and communication

Data, information, evidence and research used and how it has influenced the decision-making process

Data from:

  • Census 2011 
  • Index of Multiple Deprivation 2019
  • ONS Neighbourhood Statistics
  • Public Health England – Health Profiles 2017
  • Dorset Statistics via GeoWessex - Appendix A gives the appropriate data on age, sex and disability as percentages of the population in Dorset.
  • Assistance Dogs UK
  • Equality & Human Rights Commission 

Population figures in the Dorset Council area

population figures table
Group

Totals

%

All males

184,100

48.9

All females

192,380

51.1

0-15 years

59,930

15.9

16-64 years

208,740

55.4

65+ years

107,810

28.6

Total 

376,480

 n/a

Diversity 

  • 95.6% White British
  • 4.4% BME
  • 1.7% main language not English

Disability

4.6% of the population based on those claiming Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments or Attendance Allowance in the Dorset Council area.

Health  

long term health issues table
Long term health problem or disability Total %
Day-to-day activities limited a lot

6315

9.69

Day-to-day activities limited a little

7786

11.95

Day-to-day activities not limited

51066

78.36

Type of health

type of health table
Type Total %
Very good health

27,562

42.29

Good health

23,933

36.73

Fair health

9,802

15.04

Bad health

2,952

4.53

Very bad health

918

1.40

Consultation has also taken place with the following organisations:

Dogs are used to assist owners with various disabilities by guiding and/or performing tasks. There is no data on numbers of dog owners or specifically accredited assistance dogs, but it is appreciated that their needs must be considered as part of this process. This is a legal requirement of the Equality Act 2010. 

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) define an assistance dog as dogs that are trained to help people with hearing difficulties, epilepsy, diabetes, physical mobility problems and more. Assistance dogs carry out a variety of practical tasks for people as well as supporting their independence and confidence. Assistance dogs are not pets and are treated as 'auxiliary aids'. Assistance dogs are highly trained which means they: 

  • will not wander freely around the premises
  • will sit or lie quietly on the floor next to their owner
  • are unlikely to foul in a public place 

Most are instantly recognisable by a harness or jacket. However, the law does not require the dog to wear a harness or jacket to identify it as an assistance dog. 

Some, but not all assistance dog users, will carry an ID book giving information about the assistance dog and the training organisation together with other useful information, again, this is not a legal requirement.

Source: Assistance Dogs: a guide for all businesses, EHRC; 2018 

Assistance dogs are usually qualified by one of the charitable organisations registered as members of Assistance Dogs UK and as such an assistance dog is legally permitted to accompany its client, owner, or partner, at all times and in all paces within the United Kingdom. 

The Society for Companion Animal Studies define a therapy dog as a dog that is used to benefit people in a therapeutic way. This incorporates wide range of potential activities with a wide range of people e.g. some pets take part in visiting programmes, whilst others take part in structured activities as part of a therapeutic programme. Therapy dogs in the UK are not considered to be assistance dogs and do not have the same legal privileges.

The Department of Work and Pensions is formulating a definition. We will take account of its findings which may impact the EqIA and shape future Orders. 

The Dorset Council Dog related PSPO 2020

Information on certain definitions 

Data and service knowledge/information suggested that:

  • the most impacted protected characteristics are age and disability, with some impact likely for race and ethnicity, and those suffering social and economic deprivation
  • attitudes towards dogs and dog ownership can often be polarised and the actions of the council need to achieve a balance between public health and safety and, the benefits to owners especially those with key protected characteristics that may rely upon their dogs for assistance in their everyday lives.    

Engagement or consultation that has taken place as part of this EqIA

A public consultation to help the preparation of the draft Order was undertaken for 15 weeks, with response received from over 8,600 people, extended due to the implications of COVID-19. A separate EqIA was carried out for the consultation process. The consultation report, Appendix B, can be accessed in the consultation tracker

Consultation has also taken place with the following organisations:

  • The Kennel Club
  • Guide Dogs for the Blind
  • Assistance Dogs UK

Feedback 

A consultation report has been produced and has been published on the council’s website. The consultation report will also form part of reports to Place & Resources Overview Committee and Cabinet presenting the draft Order for approval.

Assessment

Impacts of the strategy

impacts table
Impacts on who or what?   Effect Details  
 Age Positive and negative Negative:
  • inability to remove dog fouling.
  • reduced ability to restrain a dog on lead.having to travel further to exercise their dog on foot or by vehicle.difficulty with access on to land where exercise can be undertaken.

Positive:

  • people (in particular under 5) will have less potential to be harmed by un-cleared faeces or distressed by coming into contact with it. accidental trips from uncontrolled dogs may be reduced
What age bracket does this affect?  n/a
  • older people with reduced mobility and dexterity
  • all ages
Disability  Positive and negative  Negative: 
  • inability to remove dog fouling (physical impairment)
  • having to travel further to exercise their dog
  • reduced ability to restrain a dog on lead
  • ability to know about the restrictions (sensory and cognitive impairment)
  • reduced ability to communicate (i.e. hearing impairment, speech impairment)
  • ability to understand the restrictions (mental impairment)
  • difficulty with access on to land where exercise can be undertaken (mobility impairment), this may be due to steps, rough or soft ground, camber or gradient

Positive: 

  • the PSPO exempts assistance dogs in certain circumstances
  • prevents working assistance dogs from being distracted by other dogs wishing to interact
Does this affect a specific disability group?  n/a Those with physical disabilities & mental impairment.
Gender reassignment and gender identity / religion or belief / sexual orientation / sex / marriage or civil partnership / single parent families / armed forces communities    Neutral Not anticipated at this stage that there are any impacts on this group.
Pregnancy and maternity   Unclear Any heavily pregnant individuals may be less able to remove dog fouling and to travel further to exercise their dogs.
Race and ethnicity  Negative
  • understanding of written English used on signage to mitigate this Dorset Council uses symbols and translation software can be put on mobile telephones
  • understanding Animal Welfare and Dog Control Officers authorised officers (Enforcement Officers) in conversation
  • where a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) is served, understanding the content of such a penalty.
 Carers   Positive With the controls in place in some public open spaces the caring of an individual may be made easier.
Social and economic deprivation  Unclear  

No access to private transport may restrict the ability to travel further to exercise a dog.

Ability to meet needs of dog ( veterinary requirements and vaccinations).

Ability to provide a suitable lead.

Keys to impact

impacts table
Positive impact 

the proposal eliminates discrimination, advances equality of opportunity and/or fosters good relations with protected groups.

Negative impact 

Protected characteristic group(s) could be disadvantaged or discriminated against.

Neutral impact 

No change/ no assessed significant impact of protected characteristic groups.

Unclear 

Not enough data/evidence has been collected to make an informed decision.

Action Plan

action plan table
Issue Action to be taken Person(s) responsible Date to be completed by
Dog owner due to age/mobility/latter stages of pregnancy is unable to clear fouling or comply with any other restriction 

Officers receive training about this aspect of enforcement. 

A FPN can be appealed and information submitted about mitigating circumstances. Appeals are determined by the service manager. 

A letter can be provided for the dog owner to carry to present if approached again by an officer. 

The FPN procedure will be reviewed to ensure that the above provisions are suitably clear.

Jane Williams

December 2020

Dog owner has sensory or mobility disabilities 

The Order will exempt people with certain characteristics from complying with relevant restrictions.

Jane Williams

At the time the Order is made – suggested wording attached as Appendix D

Dog owner has un-liveried assistance dog and is unable to clear fouling or comply with any other restriction 

Officers receive training about this aspect of enforcement. 

A FPN can be appealed and information submitted about mitigating circumstances. Appeals are determined by the service manager. 

A letter can be provided for the dog owner to carry to present if approached again by an officer. 

Dog owner will be supported in gaining appropriate livery for their dog. 

The FPN procedure will be reviewed to ensure that the above provisions are suitably clear. 

Jane Williams

December 2020

Dog owner has a liveried assistance dog and is unable to clear fouling or comply with any other restriction 

The dog owner will not be challenged by the authorised officer other than to offer assistance.

 The FPN procedure will be reviewed to ensure that the above provisions are suitably clear.  

Jane Williams

December 2020

Dog owner with limited understanding of written English

Review to provide clear unambiguous signage, suitably located and in adequate numbers using internationally recognised symbols. Simple clear font of a suitable and appropriate size will be used. 

Provision of information on website and leaflets which are easy to understand.  Website also has Read Speak facility. 

Jane Williams

April 2021

Dog Owner with limited understanding of English (where English may not be their first language)

Authorised Officers that carry work owned mobile phones will be asked to obtain the speak and translate style app for use in such circumstances

Jane Williams

December 2020

Achieving consistent enforcement

Ensure all officers involved in enforcement activities are familiar with requirements of the PSPO. That they are confident and suitably trained in dealing with vulnerable people and/or those with disabilities and understand when discretion should be applied in order to achieve fair and consistent outcomes 

Regular training of all authorised officers including equalities (last training February 2020). 

Jane Williams

On-going

 

Use of bins, their location, height and emptying

Dorset Council litter bins are signed to advise they can be used for the disposal of wrapped dog fouling. Signage will be checked as part of implementing the PSPO 

The PSPO requirement is that the fouling should be cleared and adequately disposed of. This can include taking home and disposing of in the household waste stream. 

The provision of bins for dog fouling only is undertaken by some Parish and Town Councils under separate emptying and disposal arrangements.

Information about the disposal of dog fouling is provided on the council’s website. 

Dorset Waste, Parish and Town Councils

On-going

Inability to exercise dog in locality due to PSPO restrictions. May be exacerbated by reduced mobility; lack of transport etc.

Meeting a dog’s welfare needs includes providing the necessary amount of exercise each day, which in many cases will require dogs to be let off the lead whilst still under control. However, on-lead exercise and home play are as equally important, both of which have been used to significantly during the Covid-19 lockdown period. 

A dog can be walked under control on any pathway, footpath etc. in order to provide exercise.

Proposed exclusion areas are only in locations where public safety Is required due to the number of people who may be present and due to public health considerations e.g. beaches/play areas/sports pitches. 

Most of these excluded areas have nearby options for off-lead exercise. 

Any locations where issues do become apparent will be reviewed when the next PSPO consultation takes place (maximum 3 years).

Jane Williams

On-going

Receipt of a number of emailed concerns on accessibility to Front Town Beach, Lyme Regis during winter months by dog Owners with mobility issues and the lack of alternative locations for off lead exercise

Officer to undertake a review of Lyme Regis beaches and surrounding area for accessible locations.

Attached is Appendix E – a report on the beaches of Lyme Regis and some alternative nearby locations for exercising a dog off lead.  Dependent on the nature of mobility, and tide, some options will suit better than others. 

Many of the emails were also concerned about the inability to obtain mental wellbeing.  The dog owner will still have the ability to receive mental wellbeing by walking in the location whilst the dog will be stimulated by sights, sounds and odours,  even if on a lead. 

Front Town beach still remains open to all dog owners (and other users) albeit dogs must be kept on lead.   

Assistance dog owners are likely to have their dog on lead to aid transition on the beach slopes and changes in path way height.

Jane Williams 

November 2020 

Who has agreed this EqIA?

agreement table
Role Name Date
Officer completing this EqIA

Jane Williams

18 September 2020

Equality lead

Susan Ward-Rice

24 September 2020

Equality and diversity action group chair

Pete Bartlett

24 September 2020

Diversity and Inclusion Officer - Dorset Council

Name: Susan Ward-Rice
Email: susan.ward-rice@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk
Tel: 01305 224368
Full contact details

 

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