Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dogs and public places

Should dogs be allowed in public spaces?

There is increasing regulation of dogs in public spaces. Designated “dog parks” tend to be a little more out of the way. But is that reasonable? Simon Carter, Senior Lecturer in Urban Planning at the University of Melbourne, published this article yesterday that suggests we need to think differently.

He claims that since human beings domesticated dogs, human beings – including those who don’t care about and even those who dislike dogs – are obliged to meet their needs. This includes being able to exercise off the lead and explore urban spaces. Its an interesting argument, as he is suggesting - as a species - we have a collective obligation to animals we have domesticated.

When people complain about dogs, whether it is dog poo, dogs digging or dogs being boisterous around kids, the reaction of councils is often to reduce or remove canine access to the area. Imagine, though, if more public resources were available to train people how to used these shared spaces with their dogs responsibly?

Banning dogs from public parks, Carter suggests, is unfair:
“Dogs are utterly incapable of taking responsibility for their own actions, let alone the actions of other dogs, and yet we punish all dogs because of the actions of a few irresponsible dog owners.”
As the human population expands, the interests of other stakeholders like dogs are likely to be perceived as less important, which is why we need to make sure we plan in advance to incorporate appropriate dog friendly spaces in new developments. 

In addition, we should be advocating for shared access to public parks. That means actively communicating with your local council, letting them know what resources you appreciate and those you’d like to see, and making your voice heard. 

To read more, click here.