Dog owners who walk their pets on some Scottish beaches could be subject to hefty fines from this week – although canines north of the Border have fewer seasonal restrictions than elsewhere in the UK.
A third of British beaches have some form of dog restrictions in place, according to a report from Direct Line Pet Insurance. But just 18 per cent of Scottish beaches have some kind of ban on walking animals, with just 10 per cent restricted in summer.
Many beaches with seasonal restrictions have brought in the annual rules this week.
Just 4 per cent of beaches have year-round bans stopping them from walking their dogs. Most of the restrictions finish at the end of the summer, typically taken to mean the end of September or October.
In Scotland, local authorities have the power to create dog free spaces through the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, while south of the Border, these restrictions are usually covered by either Public Space Protection Orders and Dog Control Orders which fines owners for dog fouling and breaking dog restrictions.
Fines typically start from between £50 and £80 and are delivered as a Fixed Penalty Notice. They can, however, rise up to £1,000. Prit Powar, head of Pet Insurance at Direct Line said: “1 May marks the start of many restrictions on British beaches for dog owners. While they may previously have been able to take their dogs for walks without a lead, even taking their dog on their favourite beach at all could result in a fine of £50-£80. Anyone who takes their dog on a beach at the moment should check signs around the beach, or their local council website, for information on whether they are still able to.
“The restrictions vary hugely, even down to different parts of the same beach, so check carefully and speak to the council if unsure.”
She added: “Anyone planning a holiday to a coastal part of the UK with their dogs this summer should check on which beaches they are able to take their dogs. If some restrict dogs on a popular beach, there should be others in close proximity which have fewer restrictions in place. No one wants to end up with a fine for walking their dog while on holiday.”
Dog owner Natasha Lobley from Edinburgh walks her schnoodle, Daisy, regularly on Cramond beach.
“I’m not aware of any restrictions there, but if there were, I wouldn’t be offended,” she said. “Not everyone likes dogs, so if there are a lot of people on a beach it could be a problem. Some children are scared of dogs and it could be unpleasant for them to have dogs bounding around and coming up to them. Also, not all dog owners are responsible and don’t always pick up after their dogs. Children and dog poo definitely do not mix.”
James Watt, who runs a dog walking business in Muirhead, near Dundee, said: “Dogs aren’t allowed at Broughty Ferry during the summer from May onwards, though I haven’t heard of anyone being fined. They say it is to preserve the quality of the bathing water which sounds ridiculous. I can understand having parts of the beach restricted for folk who are scared of dogs, however that’s not the reason given.
“At Monifieth, which is another beach I use regularly, there is a lack of information available. Some third party websites say you aren’t allowed there in the summer with a dog but I couldn’t find anything on the Angus council website.”