AFTER a hard-fought battle, dog owners have retained their right to walk their pets on the Mundy Playing Fields in Thornbury.

A flurry of complaints about fouling had led town leaders to consider banning dogs from the grounds in July.

But following repeated pleas from "considerate" owners over the past three months, they decided not to penalise a majority for the poor conduct of a few.

New dog walking designated areas, where pets will have to be kept on leads at all times, marked out with white poles, will be created on the grounds. Owners will only be able to let their animals run free on Poulterbrook field. This will be on a temporary basis, however, until such time as pitches are built on Poulterbrook.

Town clerk Judith Payne said: "We are not going to ban dogs. What we are going to do is designate areas where they can be walked on a lead. They will go down the lines of where the footpaths are now. Pitches are going to be built at Poulterbrook but in the interim they will be able to go to Poulterbrook and their dogs can be let off the lead there."

Despite the signs warning owners to keep their furry companions on a lead at all times, many let their dogs to run loose and use the fields as a toilet but failed to clean up after them.

More worryingly, over the last six months fouling was discovered on children’s play equipment raising health safety alarm bells.

Yet, a group of vocal owners, known as the Dog Walkers, argued they were not responsible and launched a campaign to convince Thornbury leaders to retain the Mundy Playing Fields as a dog-friendly zone.

Its members wrote to the Gazette defending their right to use the playing fields.

They said: "As responsible, regular early morning dog walkers we would like to point out that we always pick up our own dogs’ mess.

"Often we find ourselves picking up the dog mess of other people who have either ignores their dog’s mess or will not pick it up, thereby spoiling the amenity for responsible owners. Do not let the few spoil it for the majority."

They even claimed that the fouling found on the play areas sculptures was in fact fox mess.

Yet, this could be a short-lived victory as a ban could be back on the table if the situation does not improve.

Mrs Payne added: "We will see how it works. If people don't adhere to it there is the chance that we will ban dogs completely."