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New Forest Dog Owners Group holds summit to bridge gap between owners and New Forest organisations

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A MEETING of New Forest groups has been held in a push to improve the behaviour of "irresponsible" dog owners.

The two-hour event in Brockenhurst was organised by the New Forest Dog Owners Group (NFDOG) and brought together local authorities, experts and residents.

NFDOG chair Heather Gould said: "This has been a long time coming because of Covid-19, but we thought it could be a useful way of getting messages to dog owners who don’t behave responsibly.

The two-hour event in Brockenhurst brought together local authorities, experts and residents
The two-hour event in Brockenhurst brought together local authorities, experts and residents

"It may be worrying livestock, not picking up poo, or chasing the wildlife – all are behaviours we need to stop.

"It could be a case of laziness or lack of education, but this minority of dog owners harm us all, and that needs to change.

"We won’t convince everyone, but this is yet another way of trying to develop better behaviour."

It was chaired by former Official Verderer Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre and also attended by walkers, pet shop owners, groomers and kennels.

Representatives were there too from the national park authority, Forestry England, the verderers, Hampshire police, Wild New Forest, and New Forest District Council.

Ideas put forward included sponsorship of dog poo bins in car parks, children’s education to remind parents to behave properly, and more information on releases on the Forest of stallions and pigs.

There was also agreement that dog walkers should avoid areas used by ground-nesting birds.

Lead NPA ranger Gillie Molland welcomed the event, as did Forestry England’s community manager, Charlotte Belcher.

Ms Belcher said: "We were really pleased to be part of this positive session and will continue to work closely with this group to help educate and support responsible behaviour amongst dog owners right cross the Forest."

There was also a presentation from Dr Fiona MacDonald, one of the leading researchers into CRGV – or Alabama Rot.

She revealed the organism which causes the disease was first identified in the New Forest and was very close to being specifically identified through DNA.

Once this step is accomplished work will begin on providing better treatments.

Dr MacDonald thanked NFDOG for the tens of thousands of pounds it has raised for research over the last decade.

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