Devon Loves Dogs - a new, free membership scheme for dogs in South East Devon

A new, free membership scheme called Devon Loves Dogs has been set up for dog owners and dog lovers in South East Devon.

Residents and visitors to South East Devon will soon be able to join a new membership scheme for dog lovers.

Devon Loves Dogs will launch during Heath Week, at the Family Festival on Sunday 23 July at Woodbury Castle.

The new scheme for dog owners and dog walkers is led by Julie Owen, who will give information, advice and run events for residents and visitors across the Exe EstuaryDawlish Warren and East Devon Pebblebed Heaths.  Julie will bring together a community of dog walkers who love where they live and walk with their dogs, promoting responsible dog ownership so that people and their pets can have a barking good time at these important conservation sites, at the same time helping to care for the wildlife which makes these areas internationally important.

Julie will spend her time on the three sites meeting and talking to dog walkers, encouraging waggy fun and responsible dog ownership, as well as helping to prevent disturbance or damage to the sites, helping to keep them as special as they are now. Julie will be able to provide useful information about dog walking, when to keep your dog on a lead, codes of conduct and places to walk as well as maintaining a regular presence, organising events and activities to encourage membership of a community of nature-loving dog owners, known as Devon Loves Dogs.

Membership of Devon Loves Dogs will be free and members will be able to access useful canine information and free gifts to help our furry friends.

Julie will work closely with partners including Clinton Devon Estates, the Exe Estuary Management Partnership, Devon Wildlife Trust and RSPB. Julie will also provide helpful information on the special nature of these internationally important areas and how small changes in behaviour can have huge benefits for wild birds and their habitats.

Devon Loves Dogs Co-ordinator, Julie Owen said:

I’m very excited about setting up Devon Loves Dogs as a community of dog walkers and dog owners.

As a member of Devon Loves Dogs, people will get helpful advice and freebies, such as dog tags, treats and poo bags, so our canine friends are not mucky pups!

I’ll be able to help people understand where they can safely go to let their pooches run around off the lead and make suggestions for ‘walkies’, where livestock are located, any sensitive wildlife areas and restricted areas.

To find out more, email me on woof@devonlovesdogs.co.uk

Kate Ponting is the Countryside Learning Officer for Clinton Devon Estates, who are responsible for managing 2,800 acres of the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths.

She said:

The Pebblebed Heaths are really special, and are home to some very rare plants and animals. They are also incredibly popular with people who love the outdoors, and attract 1.9 million visits a year. Seventy per cent of the people who visit come with their dogs. Dog fouling is one of the commonest complaints we receive from visitors, with dogs also able to disturb wildlife, and in particular ground nesting birds.

The Heaths are an important asset for the community to enjoy, as well as schools and the Royal Marines, who train here. We’re keen to support Devon Loves Dogs so everyone, dog owner or not, can enjoy this wonderful environment to the full while helping to look after this important habitat and the species which call the Heaths home.

Kennel Club Secretary, Caroline Kisko said:

The Kennel Club is always heartened to see communities coming together to ensure that dogs and their owners can responsibly enjoy the open spaces around them. One of the main objectives of KC Dog, the Kennel Club’s group created to protect dog owners’ rights, is to ensure fair access to public areas. We therefore strongly encourage dog walkers to work together to make sure everyone gets a fair deal whilst also guaranteeing that others can also enjoy the surrounding nature.

The new Devon Loves Dogs scheme looks set to make a positive difference to our four-legged friends and we wish the organisers every success in their endeavours.