Dog owners bite back

‘We are doing our bit’ they say.

Angry dog owners have bitten back over claims that a group, set up to promote responsible dog ownership in Honiton, had “fallen by the wayside”.

The claim was made during a meeting of Honiton Town Council, when the subject of Dog Control Orders was being discussed.

Dog owner Patricia Franklin told the Midweek Herald that Honiton Canine Friendship Group was incorporated into Honiton and District Canine Society, which was established over 45 years ago, in 2010.

“We are still here,” she said.

“Several members were as angry as I was when they read the comment - and some paid-up members thought the club had folded.

“The aims of the two groups were identical - to promote responsible dog ownership - so it seemed sensible to incorporate the group into the society.”

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Although she accepts dogs’ mess is a contentious issue in Honiton, Mrs Franklin says everything has been done to encourage dog owners to always carry poo bags with them.

“Several of us will pick up other people’s dogs’ mess when we see it in the street,” she said. “We double bag it and put it in a bin.

“We have had sweeps of the Millennium Green after events, to make sure there is nothing unpleasant up there.

“We don’t like being ankle deep in dog poo; we find it abhorrent, so we do our bit.”

Mrs Franklin says the real way forward is for East Devon District Council to enforce the law and bring irresponsible dog owners to heel.

The society has had conversations about enforcement with Councillor Vernon Whitlock, the Mayor of Honiton, and Police Community Support Officers.

It is concerned that dogs’ mess is being singled out when litter, in general, is a problem in Honiton.

“Dogs’ mess is only a small part of it. We’ve got cigarette ends, chewing gum and vomit - it’s horrible.

“There is a bigger issue here than dog poo and it’s got to be addressed together.”

Mrs Franklin says, in some cases, human excrement is being mistaken for dogs’ mess.

Parents had been seen letting their toddlers use the streets as a toilet, particularly in the summer, and, recently, youths are reported to have used a bench as an impromptu toilet seat for a prank.

On Monday night, members of Honiton and District Canine Society were taking Good Citizen Tests.

They were required to prove they can control their dogs and demonstrate that they have a good understanding of laws relating to dog ownership.