DOGS have been banned from Barry Island’s public toilets after owners were found washing their pets in sinks.
The island is a popular destination for dog walkers but recent changes including winter parking charges and spot fines for dogs without leads have led some to claim that pet owners are being made to feel unwelcome.
While the Vale of Glamorgan Council says it has has acted to stop the ‘unhygienic’ washing of pets in sinks and baby changing facilities, some dog owners have complained that the toilet ban puts the animals at risk of being stolen.
Councillor Gwyn John, cabinet member for visible, leisure and regulatory services said: “The council has put up temporary signs indicating that dogs are not allowed inside the toilets on Barry Island after a number of incidents involving owners using the baby-changing facilities to wash their dogs.
“Doing this is unhygienic and in some cases has left the facilities unusable for others.
“For the time being, dogs are not permitted inside the toilets on Barry Island while the council explores a number of possible solutions.”
However, some residents of Barry Island are not happy about the decision.
Alex Davies, owner of Coffee Cove on Friars Road, said: “I’ve noticed that there have been less dog walkers this past year. I understand the council’s position, but maybe they could have had a toilet where dogs are allowed in. It just feels like dog walkers are deterred from visiting the island.”
Mark Vockins, 41, owner of Quasars on Station Approach Road, said: “It is just another episode in the council’s war against dog owners. It’ll put people off from coming to the island.”
Christopher Evans, 43, from Llantwit Major said: “It’s absolutely ridiculous. I’ve got a young dog, if I left her outside she would be too anxious. She could be attacked or she could be stolen.
“There seems to be a campaign against dogs at the moment. Businesses here make money over the winter from dog walkers. This decision doesn’t make sense for business.”
Despite the opposition, some dog walkers at the resort fully support the council in its battle against unhygienic owners.
Gemma Brown, 31, from Newport said: “I think the council is right. Public toilets are for people, not dogs. And people can still use the showers to wash their dogs.”
The council has been criticised in recent weeks for targeting dog walkers. On October 1 it introduced winter parking charges which last until March 1. This is the first time they have done so. Local business owners started a petition and Vale of Glamorgan MP, Alun Cairns lent his support.
Mr Cairns said: “These parking charges risk Barry Island’s status as a year-round resort. The charges have the potential to deter visitors and decrease the amount of time and money spent on the Island.
On October 17 the council began fining people for not having dogs on a lead. The council had granted 3GS environmental enforcement officers legal powers to tackle environmental crime which includes dog fouling.
But the council was found to have fined people incorrectly and later apologised. Councillor Gwyn John said: “The bylaws that govern Barry Island Promenade state that dogs must be walked on a lead between April and September. These restrictions are however loosened during the winter season.
“The council would like to apologise to those people who were incorrectly issued a fixed penalty notice. 3GS have been instructed not to issue any further penalty notices on these grounds. The four notices already handed out will be rescinded.”
A 3GS spokesman said: “We apologise for the misunderstanding and our officers are now fully apprised of the bylaws. The fixed penalty notices have already been withdrawn and each of the recipients will be notified accordingly.”