As a dog walker who has often let his dog off her lead in the cemetery, I read Amirah Hussain’s letter with concern. I try to be a responsible dog walker. I clean up after my dog and I’m aware that there are many people in our community who strongly dislike or fear dogs. When walking along pavements, I try to give other people as much room as possible. When the dog is off her lead, I will call her to me if I suspect someone fears her. But part of being a responsible dog owner is giving the animal enough exercise and, with a young or big dog, this is impossible if the dog is always kept on the lead.
I have no wish to exclude other people from the cemetery or any other open space, but, on the other hand, I don’t want to be excluded for exercising my dog. It must be pointed out that most dogs are not vicious. On the whole dogs are only nasty if they have been trained to be nasty. Those that are vicious should be muzzled as well as kept on a lead.
Fearing all dogs and thinking they are all dangerous is not ‘reasonable’.
It would be a shame if two sections of our community were pitted against each other causing resentments and anger. Dog walkers must be responsible and be aware of other people’s fears and anxieties. But I wonder if there could be an initiative allowing those who are anxious about dogs to meet some dogs and their owners. Hopefully they could gain a better understanding of dogs’ behaviour and recognise when a dog is being friendly rather than aggressive.