Richmond and Bushy Parks dog leash rule petition
Calls for dogs to be allowed off-leash in Richmond and Bushy Parks have intensified – despite a 3-month ban during deer calving season.
Dog owners have joined together to challenge new restrictions issued by The Royal Parks, which prevent dogs from roaming freely to protect deer and their cubs.
The new rules for 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 kept on a leash in parks.
But the move comes after an increase in dog attacks on deer as more people enjoyed the open spaces and bought dogs during the pandemic.
Four deer have died of 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.
The Royal Parks 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 more than 3,000 signatories in a matter of days – was started by photographer Tamra Cave who said she accepted it was 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 hammer 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 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 off-leash dogs throughout 3,500 acres of Richmond and Bushy Park. Yes it is important to protect wildlife but has gone from a 6 week ban last year to 3 months in 2021. There are better solutions and punishes responsible dog ownershttps: //t.co/JoOAZm3kUL
– David Gandy (@DGandyOfficial) May 11, 2021
Royal Parks said they were aware of the petition to allow dogs off leash, 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 birthing season, this means we require dog walkers to keep their dogs on a leash, stay within the park perimeter, be vigilant and avoid areas of dense vegetation where newborn deer might be hidden.
“Deer can give birth anywhere, including high density areas such as trails. They do not stick exclusively to the whelping areas, which is why it is necessary that dogs be kept 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 would like to thank all our visitors for their support for these measures. ”