Hundreds Sign Petition Against 'Stop and Search' for Dog Owners

Claim proposed measures would penalise well-behaved pets

Opponents of the proposal want more dog poo bins to be provided

February 1, 2023

Plans to “stop and search” dog owners and fine them £100 for not having poo bags has angered residents.

Hammersmith and Fulham locals could be penalised for a range of offences, including having their pets in restricted areas and walking too many dogs at once if new rules are introduced by the council. People could even be taken to court if they fail to pay their fines.

Over 300 neighbours have signed a petition calling for Hammersmith and Fulham Council to drop the plans for stricter measures on dog owners.

The residents have said the rules would punish good-natured dogs by restricting where they play and instead it wants the council to provide more poo bags and spaces for dogs to be trained.

The petition says, “We ask that the council does not bring in any orders that restrict well-behaved sociable dogs from enjoying time with their families in public spaces like picnic areas and sports fields.

“Dogs are social creatures and an important part of loving families and they must be able to join them. Further, some dogs suffer separation anxiety and need to be with their families.

“We ask that the council address dog fouling by putting up an increased amount of dog poo bins with free bags on them, sponsored by pet businesses to meet the cost and we ask that dog owners and their dogs are not subjected to intimidating stop and search procedures to see if they have bags left on them.”

The neighbours have also asked the council to let people take five dogs out for a walk at once if they are in a big park.

The council’s plans first appeared in November 2022 and are part of a public space protection order (PSPO) that will also exclude dogs from playgrounds and sports courts. It could also introduce lead-only areas.

Dog walkers could be penalised if they are walking too many dogs at once and council officers could ask for a dog to be put on a lead when necessary.

Announcing the consultation, the council said, “To help keep our parks safe and pleasant for all we’re consulting on whether we should introduce certain rules around dogs in our parks and open spaces.

“PSPOs are aimed at ensuring public spaces can be enjoyed free from anti-social behaviour. They are not about stopping the responsible use of public spaces – but they do provide councils with a tool to tackle persistent issues that are damaging their communities.

“The vast majority of dog owners act responsibly and keep their dogs under control. However, the council continues to receive concerns from residents about the behaviour of some dogs and irresponsible dog owners.”

A council consultation into the plans has now come to an end and Hammersmith and Fulham Council are expected to make a decision about whether to bring in the fines soon. If introduced the rules would be in place until 2026.

The PSPO would give an offender 14 days to pay the fixed penalty, which would be cut to £60 if paid within seven days. Failing this, they could face prosecution and even have to appear in court.

Assistance dogs and anyone with a disability preventing them from carrying out daily tasks would be exempt from the order.

Jacob Phillips - Local Democracy Reporter