Dog owners speak out against Richmond and Bushy Parks dog leash rule
Calls for dogs to be allowed off the trails in Richmond and Bushy Parks have intensified – despite a 3-month ban during deer birthing season.
Dog owners have banded together to challenge new restrictions issued by Royal Parks, which prevent dogs from roaming freely to protect deer and their cubs.
New rules in Richmond, Bushy and Home Parks state that dogs must be kept on a leash at all times for 13 weeks between May 4 and August 2.
Dog owners have also been “strongly advised” to avoid walking their pets in parks.
The ban is an extension of last year, which ordered a 7-week period for dogs to be on a leash in parks.
But the move comes after an increase in dog attacks on deer as more people took advantage of the open spaces and purchased dogs during the pandemic.
Four deer have died from dog attacks in Royal Parks since March 2020 when the first lockdown began, when there have been 58 incidents of dogs chasing herds.
Dogs must be kept on a leash in Royal Parks for three months.
Royal Parks have explained that the risks to dogs and deer are now higher.
A spokesperson said: “Deer instinctively fear dogs and equate them with predators, which means they can act defensively towards dogs if they think their young are in danger.”
However, thousands of dog lovers have come together to sign an online petition to overturn the ban.
The campaign – which gained over 3,000 signatories in a matter of days – was started by photographer Tamra Cave who said she accepts it is an emotional issue.
She continued, “The reported incidents of people causing disturbance in the park are far greater than those of dogs. This new regulation uses a sledgehammer to crack a nut. ”
“Keeping a dog on a leash at all times in a park is like expecting a runner to walk in the park. We all need to work together as animal and park lovers to enjoy the park and keep everyone safe – deer, dogs, children, cyclists and runners.
Famous model David Gandy, who regularly walks his dog in Richmond Park, approved the petition.
In a series of tweets, the dog owner and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Ambassador said:
“Yes it is important to protect wildlife, but it has gone from a 7 week ban last year to 3 months in 2021.
“There are better solutions and punishes responsible dog owners.”
Richmond Park has banned dogs from being on a leash throughout the 3,500 acre area of Richmond and Bushy Park. Yes it is important to protect wildlife but it has gone from a 6 week ban last year to 3 months in 2021 There are better solutions and punishes responsible dog owners https://t.co/ JoOAZm3kUL
– David Gandy (@DGandyOfficial) May 11, 2021
Royal Parks said they were aware of the petition calling for dogs to be allowed off their leashes, but argued they have a duty to protect deer as much as possible.
A spokesperson said: “We welcome dog walkers and anyone who wants to use the parks, but ask them to do so responsibly.
“During deer calving season, this means we ask dog walkers to have their dogs on a leash, stick to the perimeter of the park, be vigilant and avoid areas of dense vegetation. where newborn deer might be hidden.
“Deer can and do give birth anywhere, including in high density areas such as footpaths. They do not stick exclusively to whelping areas, which is why it is necessary that dogs be on a leash in all areas of the park, for the safety of deer and dogs.
“We know this can be frustrating and we are sorry for any inconvenience caused. We thank all our visitors for their support for these measures. ”