Call for ban on dogs in Aberdeenshire school grounds and in play parks

A call has been made for Aberdeenshire Council to consider banning dogs from school grounds and play parks in a bid to keep them free from fouling.

By Kirstie Topp, Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 21st January 2022, 6:50 am
Dogs could face a ban from play areas and school grounds.
Dogs could face a ban from play areas and school grounds.

Councillor Martin Ford raised the issue last week’s Full Council meeting during a debate of the Live Life Aberdeenshire Pitch and Outdoor Physical Activity Space Strategy.

The strategy was developed to improve access to play parks and open spaces across the region.

It revealed that dog fouling had been raised as an “ongoing issue” and officers would consider banning canines from school pitches.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Ford said: “I am amazed that as a society, and as a council, that we can continue to tolerate people allowing their dogs to foul areas that are there for people and children to play on.

“It’s a disgusting and anti-social thing to do with clear health issues and it has to be stopped.”

Cllr Ford said that he didn’t believe the measures currently in place would stop the problem and tougher action needed to be taken. While he was aware there would be issues with enforcement of a ban he said it could be easier to introduce it some places that are currently fenced.

He asked for a commitment from officers that a report will be brought forward with proposals so that councillors can have a discussion on the issue.

Director of Infrastructure Services Alan Wood responded positively to Cllr Ford’s request, adding: “It’s an important issue. Enforcement is an issue and is being looked at.”

North-east mum Keri Dryburgh said she would support a ban but felt it was unfair to responsible dog owners.

She said: “It would be okay to have dogs in parks if the owners pick up the poo and if the dogs are friendly but it is a problem everywhere, even on pavements. I noticed it was more of a problem when I had a buggy, I had to swerve around pavements to avoid getting it on the wheels.”

When asked if he thought dogs should be kept away from parks Keri’s son Joseph (5), said: “Yes because sometimes I step in poo.”

The same proposal was originally raised by Councillor Isobel Davidson back in 2018, and it had even been considered by the local authority in 2014.

At last week's meeting she said she was “very grateful” to Cllr Ford for raising the matter again and added: “We do need more safe spaces where people can go with no dogs in the area.” Cllr Davidson said she looked forward to seeing a report regarding dog bans in due course.

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said the animal welfare charity would support a decision to prevent dogs from being exercised in school grounds or play parks on health grounds.

He said: “The majority of the public are responsible dog owners, and clean up after their pets. However, there is a health and safety risk associated with dog excrement and young children. Dog faeces can carry dangerous toxins which can cause infection if children come into contact with it.

“The proposal will motivate people to exercise their dogs away from these areas, and help minimise the risk of infection.”