Published: 10:00, 28 March 2020
| Updated: 11:22, 28 March 2020
The RSPCA wants councils to relax restrictions on where dogs can be walked because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This is both to help curb the spread of the disease and protect canine welfare.
Many local authorities have Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) to stop dogs being walked in certain areas - including on local sports pitches and fields.
The charity is concerned that these can limit suitable local dog walking areas and make people travel unnecessarily.
With restrictions on people's movement to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the RSPCA has urged local authorities to temporarily relax PSPOs related to dog walking.
Under new restrictions to tackle the virus, people may leave their home once a day for exercise, which is a chance to walk dogs,
Dr Samantha Gaines, dog welfare expert and head of the RSPCA's companion animals department, said: "We know that many local authorities have previously introduced PSPOs that stop dogs being walked in certain areas.
"This has previously heightened concerns about the availability of dog walking spots near to some people's homes.
"The RSPCA is concerned that if some dog owners do not have adequate space to exercise their dogs near their homesthey may make unnecessary journeys - contrary to the UK and Welsh Government's advice to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“It won't be possible, appropriate or safe to relax PSPOs in all areas.
"However, where it is we're urging local authorities to be flexible and consider relaxing enforcement of PSPOs on dog walking."
During the coronavirus crisis the RSPCA also urges walkers to keep dogs on leads. This is to help ensure social distancing and avoid owners having to come into close contact with each another should they have to go and retrieve their dog.
Like everyone, dog walkers are asked to keep two metres (6ft) from each other. The RSPCA is also helping people to consider ways to keep their pets occupied and entertained when staying at home for long periods.
Dr Gaines said: "The RSPCA has published advice on how we can best care for our pets at this unprecedented time - including tips for mental stimulation, stay-at-home challenges and games to keep dogs as happy as possible.”
Details can be viewed on the web section rspca.org.uk/coronavirus
Finally the RSPCA says it has been impacted by the virus like other animal charities.
It wants the public to keep donating, which can be done by visiting spca.org.uk/give or telephoning its donation line 0300 123 8181.
More by this authorSam Lennon