Don Your Way column: Doncaster's football fields are for football - not for dogs
If you are a Doncaster dog owner and I suspect many of you reading this are, you might want to look away now.
Because if you have a four-legged friend in your home, the following might not make for pretty reading.
Let me make it known from the start that I have nothing against dogs. I’ve owned several of my own over the years and have happily lived with them and entertained and sometimes endured those of friends and family down the decades.
However, a recent incident in our town left me feeling pretty aggrieved and upset.
My son plays junior football and he and his team-mates were enjoying an evening training session with their manager on their pitch, a popular public playing field surrounded by houses and offering some pretty picturesque views of Doncaster.
But it is also a popular spot for dog walkers and while the boys were in the midst of hoofing the ball around in the mud, an excitable dog scampered over and into the fray.
For several minutes, the lively little animal bounced around the penalty area, tearing towards the teenage lads and bringing play to a standstill.
After a few moments of the lads and an increasingly irate manager attempting to shoo the animal away, the owner casually ambled into view, unaware of the chaos his pet had been causing on a public playing field.
Heated words were exchanged about keeping the dog on a lead and eventually, the owner took heed and shackled up the animal, having brough the training session to an abrupt halt for a good five minutes or so.
As the evening continued, several more owners came across the field, allowing their pets to roam free and in some cases, foul on the grass that the lads were playing on.
There are plenty of places in Doncaster to walk dogs - and plenty of places on this particular playing field where dogs can roam free without causing danger and disruption to a group of lads playing football.
The clue is in the name - playing field, not dog walking field.
I gather that ‘no dogs’ signs were erected - but were swiftly removed by irate dog owners, upset at their rights somehow being infringed upon.
What if the dog had been of a much larger and fiercer breed and had sunk its fangs into one of the lads’ legs as they took part in their game? And we all know the dangers and illness that can arise from dog mess deposited on school and playing fields.
We’re fortunate that Doncaster has plenty of green spaces, well away from children where dogs can be exercised freely.
I’m not stopping you walking your dogs in these places - parks and playing fields are for all.
But be a responsible dog owner.
Keep your dog on a lead in a public place. And always clean up after them. Please.
That way we can all get along and enjoy all that Doncaster has to offer.