You will have noted in this week's newsletter from parkrun information on an updated "Running with Dogs" policy. So for your information I've copied below a letter from parkrun HQ setting out some of the thinking behind the policy.
We've never had a problem at Barnsley and all of our 'doggie' parkrunners have been well behaved (noisy, but well behaved) so I don't think any of this will cause any problems at Locke Park.
Hello Event Directors,
As you may have seen on the forum ( http://forum.parkrun.info/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=538 ), on the wiki ( http://wiki.parkrun.info/index.php/Dogs ), and in the weekly parkrun newsletter ( http://www.parkrun.org.uk/news ), we have been reviewing our dogs at parkrun policy following a number of quite serious incidents recently. The pages mentioned above cover the topic in more than enough detail, so I won’t reiterate them here. However just for clarity the two changes are as follows:
1. All event organisers now have the right to decide whether they believe their events are suitable for dog runners or not. The default for all parkruns will remain that we welcome responsible dog runners at our event, and we would hope that the vast majority of events will choose to carry on with this position. In the past only locations that were definitely unsafe for dog runners, or that had bye-laws in place forbidding dogs were dog-free; if you think your event should be dog-free please get in touch with parkrun HQ.
2. At the end of November we will be introducing a one runner - one dog policy; in other words dog runners may not run with more than one dog.
As I have explained on the forum, I have had a considerable number of emails passionately defending or condemning every conceivable side of the argument. However, we have a duty to ensure that all our events are as safe as they can be, and on very rare occasions we (parkrun HQ) do need to change our policies. My deepest wish is that this change will help to ensure that dogs are welcome at our runs for many years. I would therefore ask everybody to please help implement this small change in policy.
Inevitably, when an issue such as this is discussed a number of myths start to spread so I would like to address a few of them here:
Myth 1 – parkrun is giving the green light to all single dog runners to behave as they choose
Absolutely not true – I can’t seriously believe anybody could interpret what I’ve said as implying this, but I would like to confirm that our policy states (as it always has done): “we ask that dogs are under firm control, kept on a short lead or harness, and extreme care taken to avoid tripping other runners.” As event organisers, you all have the right to have words with any of our runners who break this rule.
Myth 2 – parkrun is anti-canicross
Absolutely not true – in the second of my two newsletter articles I had to address a belief that was expressed in many of the emails after the first article (that canicross runners or runners using a canicross style harness could not possibly be to blame for any of the incidents). As it happens this belief was completely incorrect, and I decided that it was worth correcting that assumption – as I pointed out “the last three incidents that spurred me into writing last week’s article involved Canicross runners”. Unfortunately a few canicross runners chose to interpret that as an anti-canicross stance. However, the changes in policy do not in any way single out canicross runners.
Myth 3 – parkrun is pro-canicross
No, not really – while we have seen many canicrossers attending our events we have no affiliation with any canicross organisation, and are not signed up to their codes of conduct; we believe that it is up to the dog runners themselves to decide what style of dog running they choose to use.
Myth 4 – we have banned dogs and/or dog runners
Some of my correspondents have chosen to interpret the one dog one runner rule as a ban. I don’t really see it that way – all we are asking is that each of their dogs is run by a single runner – I’m sure most existing multi dog runners could find a friend, relative or colleague they could trust to run alongside them with one of their dogs; alternatively from the correspondence I have received, I know that many parkrunners would love to have the opportunity to run with a dog, so multiple dog runners could try asking around.
Myth 5 – Pairs of dogs running on ‘T leads’ couldn’t possibly cause a problem
‘T leads’ where the runner has a single lead that splits off to connect to more than one dog, were in use in all three of the incidents that prompted us into this review of policy.
Myth 6 – This is just health and safety gone mad
Absolutely not – we are responding to actual incidents that had the potential to be very serious; we have a duty to act, and we have done so in a way that we believe is proportionate and still helps to maintain the traditional parkrun ethos.
Myth 7 – parkrun is making up rules for the sake of it
parkrun’s main philosophy is to be as all inclusive as possible, and we have very few absolute rules – anybody who has been part of parkrun for seven or eight years, will know that while we’ve got bigger we have fought to retain the same ethos; any rule changes that we do make are agonised over and hopefully help to keep us on the straight and narrow.
I hope this helps to clarify our position, and I welcome any comments you may have
parkrun Global Champion