A CALL has been made for dogs to be kept on leads in a Bognor Regis park.
Town resident Jan Cosgrove, the national secretary of Fair Play for Children, said the pets should be controlled throughout Hotham Park.
The measure was necessary to protect users, particularly children, of the open space.
He raised the matter at a recent meeting with Arun District Council’s chief executive, Nigel Lynn, and its head of emergency planning, emergency and green spaces, Philippa Dart.
“What I got from the meeting, is that the council shares our concern about dogs being allowed to roam around Hotham Park and the problem of dog’s mess there.
“There is an issue about dogs having to be on leads because of the health issues,” he said.
“I know of four occasions when my grandchildren have tramped dog’s mess into my house after having been in the park. A lot of people are complaining about the situation.
“I would hope the issue of dogs being on leads is under active discussion. When it comes down to it, this is a park for humans to use primarily.
“Nowadays, dogs can be exercised on long leads. There’s no need for them to be off a lead. Some dogs which run around are rather large and intimidating to children.
“There’s always an uncertainty with dogs. You can never guarantee most of them will never turn.
“Since the restoration of the park, it is a lovely place.
“It has a good family feel and has to be one of the best parks of its kind in the country, but the problem of dog’s mess is spoiling it.”
But Hilary Sykes, a trainer and the secretary of Bognor Regis and District Dog Training Club, said Hotham Park was one of the few areas in which dogs could exercised without leads all year.
“Dogs and children can live together very happily – but both need training. Dog-owners need to be able to control their dogs to the extent they can call it to heel and put on its lead when children approach,” she said.
“They also need to be able to stop dogs running after a running child before the child becomes terrified, even if the owner knows the dog is only playing and won’t bite.
“Many children will run away from dogs because they are frightened and the dog thinks the child wants to play.
“Owners also need to pick up after their dogs without fail. As well as being extremely unpleasant, dog faeces are a health hazard to children.”
But she said parents also needed to teach their children not to approach dogs without the owner’s permission or to pull a dog’s fur, poke its eyes or pull its tail.
“Many dogs are terrified of children because this is the way they have been treated by them in the past.”
A council spokeswoman said: “We are aware there is a problem with dog fouling – most recently highlighted by our pink dog poo campaign. We are working with our dog warden and the community closely to improve the situation.”