Published: 14 September, 2012
• I WAS sorry to read of the concerns expressed by Dr Tuan Ho on behalf of Barnsbury Square Residents’ Association (Dog heaven? It’s hell for those who live in square, September 7).
I am a dog owner and reasonably regular user of the square (once or twice a week). I realise that on occasion there are large numbers of dogs in the square, but so far as I am aware this is only for a couple of hours, twice a week, on the “dog club” days. Otherwise there seems no more dog traffic in Barnsbury Square than in the other garden squares of Islington where dogs are permitted.
I am not sure what point Dr Ho is making other than to express the dissatisfaction of Barnsbury Square Residents’ Association, probably in opposition to what I suspect are the rather different views of the Friends of Barnsbury Square (of which I am not a member), whose gardening and other activities have made the square the beautiful and welcoming place it is.
Is Dr Ho calling for a ban on dogs in the square? I appreciate that not everyone living in the locality feels comfortable around dogs, but given that Barnsbury is blessed with several charming garden squares, some of which are dog-free zones, all local residents, dog lovers or not, are well catered for.
What worried me more about Dr Ho’s letter was his alarmism (arguably another infectious disease!) regarding the health risks imposed by dog owners using the square. Dr Ho raises concerns about blindness in children resulting from their catching toxocariasis canis. However, he provides no information on the numbers of cases of toxocariasis canis connected to children who play in Barnsbury Square, nor how many, if any, of these cases have led to blindness or any other serious condition. I would be very interested to know the statistics.
Of course, there are irresponsible owners who fail to pick up after their dogs, but these are the extreme minority, and all regular users know that dog owners in Barnsbury Park are almost guaranteed to point out to other dog owners or dog walkers if they have failed to pick up. Furthermore, I would be very surprised if the dogs who frequent the square are not very regularly wormed by their owners. No worms, no toxocariasis canis.
Cloudesley Road, N1
• THE regular presence of people with their dogs has been recognised as deterring drug dealing in Barnsbury Square. This public benefit would be lost if they were excluded from the park.
I am not a dog owner, but from talking to other park regulars who are, it seems they are just as frustrated as the letter writer with irresponsible people who believe that social rules don’t apply to them.
The problem is a lack of sufficient resources to enforce even the existing requirements (like picking up after your dog). Yet without effective enforcement, the likelihood of such people paying any attention to “yet another rule” is minimal.
As far as toxocariasis goes, urban foxes – who leave droppings in the park – are considerably more likely to be infected than are domestic dogs. If health is an issue, it’s clearly unwise to treat the ground inside the park as being somehow “safer” than the pavement outside its fence.
Booksby Street, N1