DOG walkers are being asked to be more considerate to other walkers when visiting the White Horse following recent incidents of off-lead dog attacks.
Local councillor Sheila Kimmins says she has been informed of several incidents of off-lead dogs attacking other dogs and their owners in the fields next to the White Horse – including one by a professional dog walker who failed to control their dogs.
Sheila Kimmins said, “We are fortunate in Westbury and the surrounding villages to have a beautiful open area such as the Westbury White Horse to enjoy the views and the peace and quiet.
“The area is for all ages, abilities, and disabilities, for walking, children safely playing and for peacefully walking one’s dog. Unfortunately, this has of late been spoiled by irresponsible dog owners and professional dog walkers allowing out of control dogs to, without any provocation, attack other dogs, people, and alarm many other users in the area.
“Recently a pack of four labradors, supposedly under the control of a professional dog walker, attacked, without any provocation, a Pomeranian, causing many injuries; a whippet lost a large chunk of flesh on his rump following an unprovoked attack by a pack of three collies; an owner had their arm bitten while trying to protect their own dog, again another unprovoked attack, and this is just some of the incidents that have been told to me in the past month.
“If you and your dog are victims of such attacks, or you witness an event, please do take details – a car registration number; the name(s) of the owner or person responsible for the out-of-control animals and report the incident to the police on 101 and the Wiltshire Dog Warden on 0300 456 0107.
“Anti-dog attack sprays are available online – it would be very sad if we fellow dog walkers were now forced to carry such a spray for protection.”
One dog walker, who owns a reactive dog that wears a bright yellow jacket with the words, ‘I need space’ when he is walked, says that this warning is often ignored by fellow dog walkers who let their dog off-lead at the White Horse.
The dog walker, who wishes to remain anonymous, said, “My dog is a rescue with anxiety issues and as a result, is reactive to other dogs. In the interest of his safety and the safety of other people’s dogs, I never let him off lead and he wears the special yellow jacket.
“This is part of the Yellow Dog UK initiative which promotes awareness and understanding of dogs who need space for a variety of different reasons. When most people see him with his jacket on, they’ll pop their own dog on a lead and give us a wide berth which is perfect and so helpful, but some people just continue to march towards us despite the warnings.
“This happened to us recently at the White Horse when a lady continued to walk towards us with her off lead dog and even acknowledged that she’d noticed my dog’s warning jacket. Her dog was perfectly behaved but that’s not the point – my boy sees an off-lead dog as something that makes him anxious and reacts accordingly, which can look aggressive. If her dog was attacked by mine for any reason, the fault would lie with her as I did everything possible to advertise our situation.
“Life would be a lot simpler if all dogs were kept on leads. You can get long lines, so the dog still has freedom but with the ability to reel them back in when necessary.”
Wiltshire Council, who is responsible for the fields near the White Horse, has recommended that all dog walkers should put their dogs on a lead if they approach other dogs in the area.
Cllr Nick Holder, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for public protection said, “Dog owners should ensure that their dogs are always kept under control. Whilst the law does not require dogs to be kept on a lead, we recommend that when using these fields, dogs are kept on a lead when other dogs are in the area.
“We would encourage people to report dog attacks involving people to the police by calling 101 and dog-on-dog attacks to the council by phone on 0300 456 0107 or email to email@example.com.”
English Heritage, which is responsible for the White Horse monument and surrounds, say that dogs that are being walked in that area must always be on lead due to grazing sheep.