UPDATE 20/04/2020 - WE ARE OPEN.
Having contacted DEFRA we have now received a response. Below is some of what they have said. I will add the file link so that if anyone would like to read the full letter it is available.
"In summary, in accordance with this guidance businesses that provide a secure dog walking environment can remain open. Continuation of trade should comply with social distancing precautions and hand washing guidance that have been set out as part of coronavirus guidance available for employers and businesses.
Finally, the police must be allowed to enforce the restrictions in place to help tackle the spread of the coronavirus and this includes making decisions whether people need to travel several miles just to exercise their dogs."
Therefore, we remain open, but ask that you if you live a significant number of miles away you consider whether it is essential to drive to use.
We are OPEN
Up to two household members in any one session ONLY
Dogs from same household
One car per session - choosing to drive here is at your own discretion
If you are walking here please make it clear on the booking form
If you show any symptoms we ask you do not attend
We have taken further advice due to the large number of links being shared across social media and customer questions.
Travelling to walk your dog is not considered essential, even if they have behavioural issues and by walking around your local block it could have detrimental impacts on their wellbeing and your mental health.
Therefore, if you choose to drive to Ryecroft during the lockdown we have been advised that you may receive a £60 fine. However, as a business, we have gained professional advice from the government that we are still allowed to trade as we are following social distancing measures, as we do usually anyway.
To get a refund or session(s) put into your account please contact me. If you can have the sessions in your account, to use a later date with no expiry date, this would be preferred as refunds cost us money due to PayPal and Stripe fees and as we are a small business and take bookings in advance this can affect us greatly.
We are still seeking greater clarity on the essential travel guidelines - whilst some customers do enjoy letting their dogs off here for something different to do which is not essential, many of our customers use the facility because their animal has behavioural issues such as extreme fearfulness of multiple stimuli that they may encounter on a local road walk, which may be especially triggered with the increased number of people/dogs exercising locally.
Today Ryecroft Meadow and other dog fields have collectively written to DEFRA. We have asked them to give full clarification on where we stand and whether they will consider us to be essential for dogs with behavioural issues.
On behalf of all our customers with reactive dogs, we made sure we described the challenges you and your dog may now face walking locally whilst not being able to travel to a remote area. We also own a reactive dog so fully sympathise with the difficulties many of you will now encounter. Below is a snippet of what we have added into the letter.
Dog walking provides more than just physical movement for the owner and dog. Exercise provides an appropriate combination of walking and sniffing in order for dogs to be well stimulated. For many dogs, this is appropriate, however, for high-drive dogs or dogs with behavioural issues a standard walk (i.e. straight out the front door around the block for one hour) may cause them to become overly aroused and stressed by various stimuli they may encounter or it may not provide enough stimulation and exercise for them. For a reactive dog, cortisol levels within the body can be four times higher than normal, failing to return to their baseline levels if a dog is persistently exposed to a trigger (Reusche, S. 2012. Chronic Stress in Dogs). Cortisol and adrenaline keep the body in homeostatic balance, however, distress (where an organism is not coping) can alter the normal functioning of these hormones. Short term exposure can keep a dog in constant distress, causing hypervigilant behaviour and an inability to cope with their surroundings, they may then need four to six weeks of trigger avoidance to allow their homeostatic balance to be restored and with even further continued exposure ‘adaptation diseases’ such as kidney and cardiovascular diseases can be expected (Scholz, M & Von Reinhardt, C. 2007. Stress in dogs). Therefore, we would suggest our facilities are essential for their welfare.
Hopefully, we will gain greater clarity in the coming days, but we are also aware of how busy the government is so we do not expect a quick response.
If you would like to get in touch please email firstname.lastname@example.org and you will receive a response in the next 48 hours.
Rhian & the Ryecroft Meadow Team.
Ryecroft Meadow will stay open subject to government guidelines.
The field is for exclusive use ONLY with all sessions requiring booking in advance. The field provides a safe space away from other dogs/owners for dogs to exercise on or off the lead.
We are ONLY allowing a maximum of 2 members of the SAME household to use the field at once. All dogs must be from the same household and no other persons must attend. One car per session ONLY.
Under NO circumstances must any groups or members of different households use the field currently.
The only points of contact are the field gate handles, please use gloves and hand sanitiser.
Please be extra careful and make sure you arrive and leave the field promptly. As always there is at least a minimum of 10 minutes between each session.
We will be removing our toy basket, we will still provide poo bags on site but we do urge you to bring your own to limit any contact on the dispensers.
For the time being you can now cancel 4 hours before by contacting us via email and we will pop the session back into your account for you to book at a later date. (24 hours before for a refund of the money).
If you have any questions now or issues whilst using the field please ring 07590928894.
DO NOT approach anyone on our yard. DO NOT approach other field users or their dogs. DO NOT knock on any of the houses.
Anyone not following these guidelines will be banned from using our facility.
16/03/2020 at 12:32pm
As Ryecroft Meadow is a large outdoor area and is hired privately with no events running at current, we have deemed any risk minimal for the spread of COVID-19 here at Ryecroft Meadow. We do, however, want to ensure that the risks stay minimal, especially to those who are vulnerable.
We already have 10-minute gaps between sessions and this will not change. We will increase rates of disinfecting commonly touched areas such as gate handles, poo bag dispenser etc.
You may wish to wear gloves or bring your own hand sanitiser, which is strongly recommended. We will not be providing any hand sanitiser or disinfectant, although this had been considered (when speaking with others who run similar facilities, many have had theirs stolen and as you can imagine, it’s in short supply!). We also strongly recommend you follow government guidelines on thoroughly washing your hands when you get home.
The World Health Organisation officials have indicated there is NO evidence pets can become ill with or spread COVID-19. You can read more on pets and the virus by clicking here.
If you show any symptoms, based on government guidelines, you should self isolate for at least 7 days and we ask you do not attend the field in this period.
Our current cancellation terms stand; if you contact us with at least 24 hours before your session we can refund or reschedule. If you contact us with less than 24 hours to go, we cannot guarantee your session will be refunded or rescheduled. Importantly, regardless of the time of cancellation, you must contact us to let us know you are not attending as we may be able to re-advertise the slot, run our own dogs or carry out maintenance.
As we are a small business we really appreciate the ongoing support from our customers during this time.
Keep yourself and others safe.
Rhian & the Ryecroft Meadow Team.