My life as a dog hater

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Have you noticed that now the nights are drawing in, people are out walking their dogs on the street again? It is one of London's great twilight hobbies to take man's best friend for its evening constitutional. Or walkies, as it is often known. During the summer months the evening constitutional is either transferred to somewhere where the undergrowth provides appropriate cover, or delayed until darkness sets in.

Dog owners are therefore the only people who welcome the end of summer and the onset of autumn. No longer do they have to pretend to be exercising the dog. Instead, they can just take it a few yards up or down the road and allow it to make a deposit on the thoroughfare rather than the carpet. I believe the City centre is no place for a dog. I have felt that way since my youth when I took to sharing a flat with an old friend in north London. He described the location as "Islington, well Highbury, actually."

In fact it was neither Highbury nor Islington but somewhere completely different. I digress. He took to walking out with a charming young lady whose only shortcoming was a little terrier called Scruffy who was her constant companion. Although Scruffy was quite compact who despite life in the City had lost none of his natural urges. Every Sunday, we would all settle down for a hand of bridge and roast leg of lamb. Every Sunday, Scruffy was given the bone to chew on and every Sunday he would take the bone to my room and bury it in my bed. It was not pleasant. Neither was Scruffy's arrival in the early hours of Monday morning in desperate search of his bone or nearest equivalent.

I vowed then to oppose canine city dwellers and nothing has changed my mind. Indeed my views have been reinforced by the kind of conversation I had last week on the underground. I found myself sitting next to a blind man. I had earlier given up my seat for him and when the one next to him became vacant, he recognised me immediately when I sat down. We fell into conversation and naturally we began to talk about property. Despite his disability, he had exactly the same concerns as a fully sighted person. Well almost exactly the same. He lived not far from Shepherds Bush but was having to move because of the dog dirt. It is not very pleasant even when you can see. But it becomes downright dangerous for the blind. My companion had only recently taken a nasty slip on a deposit which had gone undetected by his stick. It had not been the first time and enough was enough.

It was a quite sad and rather disturbing story. It is an issue we have addressed on these pages before and one which I make no apologies for raising again. There is legislation in place which allows local authorities to take action against those who do not take their responsibilities as dog owners seriously. That legislation is only of any value, however, if there are the funds in place to ensure the laws can be properly enforced.

I am sure there are many good reasons why people need dogs in our city centres. There are also very good reasons why those dogs need to dispose of their waste in a controlled fashion which does not threaten the aged, the young or the disabled. For those who do not believe the issue has any bearing on the property market they should be aware that dirty streets actually have a negative impact on house prices. It is not just the filth which is unpleasant. It is also a clear sign that dogs are in the neighbourhood. Dogs bark. And nobody likes noisy neighbours.

It is easy to point the finger of responsibility at the authorities. If neighbours were more vigilant and critical of incorrect dog owners they would actually be adding thousands of pounds to their net worth.