From Monday 18 May until Monday 6 July dog leads will be made compulsory due to volatile deer during birthing season, announce Royal Parks, failing to consult the 600,000 monthly visitors.

Richmond and Bushy Park are known for their picturesque walks and beautiful landscape and views. I think we can all agree that these Parks are routine for many people’s everyday lives including my own. Whether it’s cycling, running, walking or driving, these Parks have become a communal sanctuary and dogs absolutely love it. Making dog leads compulsory could destroy this.

For many people it is the only place to give their dog the exercise they need with common active breeds needing at least 2 hours of running per day that can only be achieved by some dogs through letting them off lead. Not only this but it gives both dogs and people a sense of freedom to their 9-5 schedule increasing dopamine levels in humans. Introducing this policy could dramatically change hundreds of thousands of people’s lives for the worse and I don’t think this has been fully appreciated. Some may say that it is only over a 3 month period but that is enough time to impact someone. It is too long and too inconsiderate.

 Due to deer birthing season females will become increasingly protective of their young and instinctively wary of dogs, known to attack unprovoked. Additionally, due to the unfortunate deaths of 5 deer due to recent dog attacks, Park managers are understandably sceptical. However, we have to realise this is a minuscule minority of the sheer amount of dogs that use Bushy and Richmond Park. Why should everyone be punished for just 5 incidents? Studies have shown that dogs off-leash were friendlier than dogs on-leash and generally a lot happier. A happier dog means a happier owner so arguably this policy should not have been introduced. 

Furthermore, realistically this is extremely hard to enforce with around 600,000 people visiting Richmond and Bushy park per month not everyone will know to put their dogs on lead and many people will just ignore it. Therefore it should be more of a warning if anything is actually to be put in place.

To conclude, dog leads should not be made compulsory as it compromises hundreds of thousands of people’s mental health (and their dog’s) as well as being extremely be hard to enforce. Even though it is understandable to introduce a restriction due to birthing season it does not need to be this drastic.