Beach dog bans should not stop lockdown walkers, say councils

Dog on beach

There is no ban on walking dogs on beaches at this time of the year. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Dog bans on beaches should not affect walkers during the third national coronavirus lockdown, Suffolk councils have said.

The RSPCA has called on councils to relax Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) which are most commonly used to keep dogs off beaches.

Both East Suffolk and Tendring councils have several PSPOs used to keep beaches clean.

However, in all but one case, these only apply during the summer - from April or May until the end of September. 

The only beach with a year-round PSPO is Felixstowe Landguard, which is also a nature reserve - and there, dogs have to be kept on a lead and are banned from disturbing other animals or digging. 

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A spokesman for East Suffolk Council said there had been concerns raised about PSPOs during the first lockdown, but the restrictions were kept in place because it was felt there were plenty of other places in the district for dogs to be exercised.

The spokesman added that it was important to keep beaches clean in the summer.

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The RSPCA advised dog owners to keep their pets on a lead, so they could not run away have to be retrieved - thereby reducing the danger of coming into close contact with other people. 

Dr Samantha Gaines, head of the RSPCA’s companion animals department, said: “If dog owners do not have adequate space to exercise their dogs near their homes, they may make journeys beyond their immediate communities and unwittingly breach Covid-19 rules, aimed to stop the spread of this awful disease.

"We’re calling on local authorities to be flexible at this time and temporarily relax PSPOs where it is safe and appropriate to do so, to help keep people local and protect dog welfare.”

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