We are lucky in Shepton Mallet that we are surrounded by many public footpaths and countryside routes where dog owners can exercise their dogs off lead, and so for the comfort and safety of all park users we want Collett Park as an area where dogs are allowed, as long as they remain leashed.

There is a bylaw relating to Collett Park that requires that dogs must be kept on leads at all times. Subsequently, however, Somerset Council brought in a Public Space Protection Order which allows dog owners the freedom to have their dogs off leads, with the condition to leash them when instructed by a licensed officer. The effect of this is that as the Public Space Protection Order is more recently dated than the original bylaw, and subsequently bylaw cannot be enforced.

The Town Council is not satisfied with this development, particularly as there are no licensed officers regularly available within Collett Park, meaning that the requests to put dogs on leads are never formally made.

We are therefore in the process of reviewing the legal requirements to reinstate the bylaw or an equivalent mechanism requiring that all dogs, once more, must be kept on leads in Collett Park.

 In the meantime, Somerset Council has recommended that additional information be fed into planned patrolling by authorised officers. The type of information they need is;

  • Location
  • Time
  • Date
  • Distance from the person observed
  • Description of person and pet (name of both if known)
  • Vehicle registration and description (if any)

The contact at Somerset Council is chcase@somerset.gov.uk for reporting issues.

There are many reason a person might not want to be approached by a dog including:

  • Fear of dogs
  • Have mobility issue and may be unbalanced
  • Have young children who don’t  yet know how to interact with dogs
  • Do not like dogs
  • Have a reactive dog or other pet who does not want to interact with a dog

Owners must ensure that the behaviour of their dogs is under control at all times, the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 states that if a dog is dangerously out of control in public the person handling the dog and the owner (if they are different) can be prosecuted, fine or imprisoned. The dog itself can be ordered to be muzzled and on a lead at all times, if its male it may also be ordered to be neutered and in serious cases where the dog has injured a person or service dog the dog can be euthanised.

The important thing to take into consideration here is the term ‘out of control,’ this doesn’t just mean being aggressive to another dog or person, it is anything the dog is doing that is threatening or dangerous that the owner can’t control or recall their dog from. ‘Injuring’ in these cases also doesn’t just refer to dog bites, if a dog jumps up at someone and they fall resulting in an injury this a breech of the Dangerous Dogs Act. By ensuring dogs are on lead and under full control of their owners we can safeguard the comfort and experiences of all park users.