Dog owners urged to keep pets on a lead around Tilgate Lake
Crawley Borough Council has been asked to make sure dog owners keep their pets on a lead when walking round Tilgate Lake.
A petition, signed by 146 people, was submitted to the council after a dog was attacked by another which was not on a lead.
Rules listed on the council’s website already require dogs to be kept on a lead – and out of the water – at all times around the lake.
But anyone who regularly visits the park will know this does not always happen.
The petition was considered at a meeting of the cabinet on Wednesday (September 8), where officers were asked to look into the cost of installing better signage and setting up more Community Warden patrols to enforce the rules.
Enforcement action such as a Public Space Protection Order could also be considered.
Councillors shared their own experiences of out of control dogs.
Chris Mullins, cabinet member for wellbeing, said he had seen deer being chased by dogs in the park, while Conservative leader Duncan Crow said his grown-up daughter had been bitten by a dog which ran out of the lake.
Mr Mullins also said there had been ‘loads of occasions’ when wildlife such as swans and cygnets had been attacked, injured and even killed.
While acknowledging that most dog owners acted responsibly when out with their pets, he added: “I know there are financial aspects to this but it’s important.
“If a child is badly injured then we will live to regret it.
“We can’t keep putting our heads in the sand over this – we have to take a decision that means something.”
Like most things in life, though, extra enforcement would cost money – money the council does not have.
Leader Peter Lamb wondered how effective enforcement would be, pointing out that there wasn’t anything the council could do unless people were ‘caught in the act’.
He also warned that funding it would mean taking the money from elsewhere.
Mr Lamb said: “My question is do we think we ought to take it away from stopping people littering or should we take it away from stopping people committing acts of anti-social behaviour?
“If we’re going to put the extra resource in, what do we think we shouldn’t be doing to support the community?”
In the end, cabinet members asked officers to come back with a further report outlining the financial costs of extra enforcement.
The petition will be considered once those reports are ready.