‘More dog owners breaking rules than ever’ on Sidmouth beach

Seasonal dog ban signs on the beach at Jacob's Ladder

Seasonal dog ban signs on the beach at Jacob's Ladder - Credit: Archant

Dog walkers taking their pets on seasonally restricted areas of Sidmouth seafront are risking the health of playing youngsters, a couple have warned.

Alan and Sheila Garnet have a beach hut at Jacob’s Ladder and on a daily basis see dog owners walk their animals – with the canines often defecating on the shingle or in the water where people bathe.

Mr and Mrs Garnet argue the signage is insufficient, but East Devon District Council (EDDC) says most people know the rules and obey them.

“The situation is ridiculous down there,” said Mr Garnet. “Even if they clean up after their dogs, it’s difficult to clean the shingle. Responsible dog owners are getting annoyed. It’s giving them a bad name.

“I’m getting a bad name too, because I keep mentioning it. It’s not what I want to keep doing, but no-one else seems to be doing anything.”

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Mr Garnet said not all dogs carry toxocariasis – an infection in their excrement that can cause seizures or a painful eye – but it is a risk. He added that there are signs explaining the dog ban that are easily missed, while stencilled markings on the ground that were meant to last three months have been worn out in three weeks.

Mrs Garnet said: “It’s getting stressful – even visitors are concerned. It’s worse this year than ever.”

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The signs say dog owners should walk along the base of the cliffs to the western end of Jacob’s Ladder beach.

But an EDDC spokeswoman said it is not always safe to do so, particularly as the pebbles have shifted and are dangerously steep – so the authority accepts the safest approach is to walk on the sand with dogs on leads.

She added: “Council officers have been to Jacob’s Ladder on more occasions than on any other section of beach this year and we do not receive complaints from residents or visitors about non-compliance with the ban. Unfortunately, there will always be some people who do not comply with these requirements and we encourage members of the public to politely point this out or to identify offenders to us. The council does not intend to provide any further information at Jacob’s Ladder this year.”

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