Hailsham Town Council has launched a campaign to raise awareness of responsible dog-walking at the Council’s parks and public open spaces.

The Town Council wants to ensure that all residents and visitors to the town’s open spaces – including Hailsham Country Park, the Common Pond and Western Road Recreation Ground – can enjoy the locations and, in the current pandemic, is pleased that many residents are using this space to get their daily exercise.

The launch of the campaign came as a result of numerous concerns raised by residents in recent months regarding dogs running loose and being out of control, attacking other dogs, fouling and causing other problems at Hailsham Country Park in particular.

In response to these concerns, the Town Council wants to continue to support the use of the park by residents, including responsible dog owners, and politely asks that people respect other park users, keeping dogs in sight and under control at all times.

The Town Council has published some guidance concerning responsible dog-walking and encourages residents to follow the tips, which will keep the park enjoyable for dog-walkers, their dogs and other people:

  • KEEP YOUR DOG IN SIGHT AND RESPECT OTHER PARK USERS

Keep your dog in sight and under control and put your dog on a lead if necessary. Also, please be aware that some people are intimidated by or frightened of dogs. Please ask before you let your dog approach other park users, train them not to jump up and to have a good recall. This in turn, will also help to keep your dog safe near roads and other potential dangers too.

  • PREVENT YOUR DOG FROM CHASING WATERFOWL AND OTHER WILDLIFE

We are lucky to share our parks and open spaces with several species of waterfowl and other wildlife. Always keep your dog at heel or on a lead near wildlife.

  • KEEP DOGS OUT OF PONDS AND LAKES

It is not appropriate to exercise dogs in ponds or lakes as this activity may cause distress to young birds and other wildlife, and this may also cause damage to the banks and fish stock. Where possible, please keep your dogs on leads when close to ponds and lakes.

  • CLEAR UP AFTER YOUR DOG – ‘BAG IT AND BIN IT’

Clearing up after your dog helps to prevent the spread of diseases that can affect not only dogs, but people too. It also keeps our public open spaces clean for other visitors. Please remember to ‘bag it and bin it’. The Town Council has several dog waste bins available at different sites, although the public can also use normal litter bins to put their dog waste in (dog waste goes into the normal waste cycle, plus it can also be discarded in your domestic waste bin should you take the dog waste home with you).

  • LIMIT THE NUMBER OF DOGS YOU WALK AT ANY ONE TIME

Please restrict the number of dogs walked at any one time. Whilst there are no legal restrictions on the number of dogs that one person can be responsible for out on a walk whilst visiting the Town Council’s open spaces, we do ask that every dog in your care is kept under control, so they don’t have a negative effect on the environment, people or other dogs.

  • CONSIDER DOG TRAINING IF NECESSARY

Training a dog can be very rewarding and can go some way in helping to prevent dogs being out of control, attacking other dogs and causing other problems whilst dog-walking. You can obtain advice about dog training from your vet and animal welfare organisations.

“Many residents in Hailsham are keen dog owners so our Country Park and other public open spaces maintained by the Town Council are regularly visited and enjoyed,” said Town Clerk John Harrison.

“We know that the vast majority of dog owners in the town are responsible. However, recent feedback provided by park users has highlighted concerns about dogs running out of control and even attacking other dogs at Hailsham Country Park. This, of course, needs addressing and we hope that the tips we have published help to make sure that everyone can enjoy our parks and public open spaces safely.”

Mr Harrison added: “It may be appropriate for dogs to be off the lead in areas with wider space such as the Country Park, but they should always be kept under control and able to respond quickly when recalled. This is crucial, as the Country Park is a community space which is also used by young children, walkers and cyclists.”

“With summer almost upon us, it’s important that dog owners understand their responsibilities and exercise appropriate caution when accessing public open spaces.”