Mr Serneels is part of the citizens’ initiative “Verantwoord Los” (Responsibly Loose).
In order to get a licence dogs would have to show listening skills and respond well to their master’s or mistress’s commands. Dogs, who are responsibly loose, are let off the lead on peaceful paths. When a cyclist or jogger appears, the dog is ordered to return to its owner’s side. Dogs stick to the paths too and don’t run off into woodland or chase sheep and other animals.
The Nature and Forest Agency, however, isn’t a supporter of the idea. An agency spokesman told the daily Gazet van Antwerpen that even a perfectly trained dog can pose a threat to nature, e.g. to birds nesting at groud level.
Mr Serneels is not impressed: “You won’t find birds nesting in the middle of paths or deer giving birth on the middle of a track. If dogs stray from the path, they are called back by their owner.”
“Police dogs and hunting dogs show that animal instincts can be controlled. It requires an effort and training: we oppose irresponsibly loose too! Dog owners, who let their pets run irresponsibly loose, can get a fine as far as I am concerned!”