A meeting was held this morning to discuss what action was needed in light of a dog killed in a city park last week.
As previously reported, Exeter pensioner Diane Walton has been left heartbroken after her beloved pet dog was savaged to death in a city park.
She was taking her daily walk with Folly, her nine-year-old Yorkshire terrier, in Belmont Pleasure Ground, when a “Staffie-type dog” came out of nowhere and grabbed it by the neck.
Ms Walton required medical assistance at the scene from an ambulance crews after watching helplessly while her dog was mauled to death.
Now, a week on from the incident, councillors, council officers, police and a representative of the Newtown Community Association met at the scene to look at what can be done to stop anything like that happening again.
No definitive decisions were taken but it was agreed to look at the possibility of introducing a by-law insisting all dogs be kept on leads while using the park.
The public will be canvased for their views.
Chairing the meeting was Cllr Richard Westlake, who was also present during the attack.
He said: “It was about this time last Thursday when I heard shouting in the park. A dog had something in his mouth. I was not sure what it was. There was a lot of noise and screaming. It had another small dog.
“The owner was trying desperately to get it off. It went on for about 15 minutes in full view of everyone. There were children and babies present and everyone was just stunned.”
Cllr Westlake said that other dog owners had approached him to voice their concerns about large, dangerous dogs running off the lead.
“They wanted something done about it,” he said.
“So we have to make a response. This meeting has been called to see what can be done and what needs to be done.”
The meeting heard there was a group that use the park with five large dogs that present a regular problem this time of year.
PSCO Kate Rees said: “This is the heart of Newtown and is a family park. There is a dog walking community but first and foremost this is a family park.
“I would not be against a by-law to keep dogs on leads. I cannot enforce it any other way.”
Former councillor and local resident Saxon Spence, said: “I would very strongly support that idea. Without one for all dogs using the park, it would be very difficult to enforce. If people are going to have dogs in the city they should accept they have responsibilities.”
Concern was raised over whether there was enough resource to enforce the by-law and the representative of the Newtown Community Association, said they should be cautious about imposing a blanket order.
The idea of looking at making the ban on dogs without leads a seasonal thing should it be introduced, to possibly run from May to September, proved popular and will be looked into.
Cllr Richard Branston, said: “What happened may be an isolated incident and may not happen again. But the best way without being so draconian as to ban dogs is no dogs without a lead.”
Following the meeting PSCO Rees, said: “It is a difficult one to move forward. The only way to make a difference is to have dogs on leads. There is no guarantee that will come into play. But it is important we know what to tell dog owners and what message to send out. In light of what happened to me one of the of the best policies to put in place.
“We will have to wait and see what can be done. This has been really impactful on the community. But the lady has had massive support, which has been really good for her.”
The lady has also now decided to get a new puppy, although she has not yet built up the courage to walk it in the park.
Annette Lawson, who walks her dog in the park every day, said: “They should not treat all dogs the same. I was here last week and what happened was horrendous. It was awful and probably the worst things I have seen in my life.
“The park has been visibly a lot quieter with dogs walkers since it happened. It was a terrible thing to happen to the poor lady but why should my dog be punished. We come here every day and they love to run around. The answer should surely be to get all dangerous dogs wearing a muzzle in public.”