News - 28th February 2022
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Change to participating with dogs at parkrun

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From time to time we need to make operational updates and changes, to clarify what might have previously been ambiguous, or to introduce new rules allowing for the continued safe delivery of parkrun events across the world.

 

The following change will affect some parkrunners who participate with their dog. 

 

Specifically: we have decided that, effective from (and including) Saturday 2 April, we will no longer permit parkrunners to use waist harnesses when participating with their dog.

 

While we understand that this may be disappointing for some parkrunners, it is a change based on clear evidence contained within our incident database and which we believe will significantly reduce the risks associated with dogs at parkrun.

 

What’s changing?

 

The rule/guidance that defines how parkrunners are allowed to participate with dogs.

 

We currently say:

 

One dog per participant, kept under firm control on a short lead, or a harness with a short lead, and care must be taken to avoid tripping others.

 

However, to provide greater clarity, and to address a growing issue, this is changing to:

 

One dog on a short, handheld, non-extendable lead by the side of the participant, and within reach at all times. Care must also be taken to avoid tripping other parkrunners.

 

When?

 

From, and including, Saturday 2 April 2022

 

Why?

 

We carefully record and review all parkrun-related incidents, and our global incident database allows us to make operational decisions based on the reality of what’s happening in our parks and open spaces.

 

Over ten percent of incidents at parkrun events involve dogs, and as such we have spent significant time considering the nature, frequency, and severity of dog-related incidents.

 

Our evidence shows that, when participants use waist harnesses, there is an increased risk of serious incidents, particularly trips and falls, compared to when using handheld leads. These are typically associated with dogs running in front of other participants, and are occuring when people are together in groups, when people with dogs are overtaking others, and when people with dogs are being overtaken.

 

Unfortunately, the nature of parkrunning with a waist harness is such that the lead allows dogs to move from side to side, in front of the participant, which can result in the dog suddenly and unexpectedly crossing in front of other participants on the course.

 

Does parkrun still welcome those who wish to participate with a dog?

 

Absolutely, where local risk assessments and landowners allow, but we have to ensure we do so in a way that is safe for everyone.

 

Since the earliest days of parkrun, we’ve openly welcomed people participating with their dogs. Paul Sinton-Hewitt, the founder of parkrun, would participate in the Bushy Park Time Trial with his, and we’ve always felt that it was not only something that emphasised the informal nature of our events, but provided an opportunity for dog owners to participate where they otherwise might be excluded.

 

Over the last 17 years however, we have grown from a single event into a global movement, with hundreds of thousands of weekly participants, across 23 different countries. As such we continually review our processes in order to balance accessibility and inclusivity with the safety of our participants and other park users.

 

Importantly, we remain of the belief that, overall, the benefits of allowing participation with dogs far outweigh the risks of doing so.

 

Our commitment has always been, and always will be, to support participation with dogs wherever it is appropriate to do so.

 

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