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City council gets tough with dog owners
A DOG owner has been ordered to keep his pet under control after two people were bitten in an Oxford park.
Oxford City Council obtained a court order against Timothy Green for failing to control his dog in public, using 140-year-old powers for the first time.
It comes as the Town Hall plans to roll out new rules and tougher fines to control dogs in the city.
The council said Mr Green, of Cutteslowe, Oxford, failed to control his black cross-breed dog Monty on two occasions when he was in the park and as a result two people were bitten.
Oxford magistrates ordered Mr Green to keep Monty under proper control. The dog must be kept on a lead or muzzled whenever he is in a public place.
It is the first time the city council has used powers available under The Dogs Act 1871. Dog bites are usually investigated by the police.
City council dog warden Ken Williams said: “It is important that dog owners take responsibility for their dog’s actions. I hope that this order will make Timothy Green realise that he has to control his dog when it is in a public place.
“Responsible dog owners train their dogs so that they behave appropriately in public.”
Mr Green said: “There is no way he is a dangerous dog. He is a Labrador-Jack Russell cross and he is extremely small. The council wanted to make a point and they made it. I will keep Monty on a lead.
“It worries me more they would go to such an extreme over an incident that was nothing.”
John Tanner, the council’s executive member for a cleaner, greener city, said: “This dog was dangerous and we had to take this case to court as it was a risk to the public.”
Officers first became aware of Mr Green and his dog in January when a woman reported she had been bitten by a dog in Cutteslowe Park.
A letter was sent to Mr Green to inform him to control his dog.
But the council said a further attack took place on April 28 when another woman dog owner was bitten on the leg.
She complained to the council after visiting her GP because of the injuries.
The city council is consulting on plans to extend its dog control powers under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act.
Fines for dog fouling could rise from £50 to £80 and dogs would be banned from play areas in parks.
New dog control orders also look at limiting the maximum number of dogs one person can be in charge of in public and giving council officers the power to have dogs put on a lead.
In the last year, six dog owners have been fined, compared to two in the previous four years.
Mr Tanner said no new staff would be taken on to police the new legislation, but existing environmental health officers and street wardens would be given new powers early next year.
Green Party group leader David Williams said: “If they are not going to increase the number of people policing the service, what’s the point in changing the rules?”
The public consultation runs until January 31.
In November 2009, we revealed how Oxford’s parks and pavements were under siege from dog mess.
To demonstrate the problem, we planted a skull and crossbones flag next to every pile of mess we found in two city parks.
We found 21 piles of dog mess in a 20-metre section of Hollow Way Recreation Ground, Cowley, and 18 in Gillians Park, between Greater Leys and Blackbird Leys.
The Dogs Act 1871 deals with the handling of stray and dangerous dogs. Section One of the Act, which covered dangerous animals, was repealed by the Dogs Act 1906. Section Two is still in force and allows magistrates to order the owner to keep a dog under proper control, and to issue fines. They can also order a dog to be destroyed.