ALTERNATIVE spaces and “dog’s rights” must be considered if the pets are banned from running free on Canvey beaches, a leading dog charity has said.

Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, has weighed in on the debate ahead of a council meeting next week – where councillors are recommended to approve an order to keep dogs on leads on beaches between April 1 and September 30.

A consultation took place with residents throughout the summer, and ahead of a final decision being made the charity was asked for submissions.

The charity warned against a total exclusion ban, but accepted dogs being on leads “can be desirable” although the council was recommended to find preferable “off-lead spaces” if the on-lead beach rule came into effect.

Responding to the idea of a dogs on lead order, the Dogs Trust said: “Dogs Trust accept that there are some areas where it is desirable that dogs should be kept on a lead.

“But the Dogs Trust would urge the council to consider the Animal Welfare Act 2006, that include the dog’s need to exhibit normal behaviour patters – this includes the need for sufficient exercise, including the need to run off lead.

“The council should ensure that there is an adequate number, and variety of, well sign-posted areas for owners to exercise their dog off-lead.”

The decision comes after a huge public consultation into whether dogs should be banned from the beaches between Concord Beach and Thorney Bay.

Last time only 11 per cent out of 731 people who responded backed a ban.

This time more were in favour of a ban or use of leads than not – although responses were down to 285.

If approved, the order could come into effect by April next year.

One of the options considered was a total ban of all dogs on beaches, but residents were not in favour of this idea, while the Dogs Trust warned against it.

The charity’s letter read: “With phone calls often being made to the RSPCA and police alterting to dogs being left in hot cars in coastal areas, we would urge you to consider the danger animals may be put in, and the difficult desicions owners have to make, by not being allowed to take their dogs onto the beach.

Dogs Trust would encourage looking into a compromise between beach goers and dog owners, e.g allowing dogs onto the beach in the evenings or early mornings.”