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A council in Hampshire's come up with a way to try and tackle complaints about dangerous or badly-behaved dogs - without taking the owners to court.
Eastleigh Borough Council has worked with Hampshire Constabulary to introduce ‘dog behaviour contracts' that can be used in response to concerns about dangerous dogs and their owners.
The contracts are used to promote responsible dog ownership and encourage improvements in the behaviour of owners. They are used as an alternative to the legal processes.
Eastleigh Borough Council and Hampshire Constabulary received regular complaints from residents about dog behaviour. These included out of control dogs in public spaces, attacks by dogs on other animals and threatening behaviour.
The voluntary agreements are offered in certain circumstances to owners of dogs causing issues, rather than taking formal legal action. Each contract is tailored, but can include conditions such as using muzzles, fencing, micro-chipping, neuteuring and training. Each contract includes timescales for meeting conditions and a formal end date.
The Council currently has 15 dog control contracts in place.
Cabinet Lead for Housing & Customer Service Councillor Anne Winstanley said “Irresponsible dog ownership can be a daily nuisance for residents and can quickly produce a deep sense of fear at the heart of a community. ‘Dog behaviour contracts' are proving to be hugely successful. They appeal to dog owners because they remove the threat of more formal court action. The contract provides the opportunity to engage with the owner and often results in them changing their behaviour in a positive way”.