Pets chosen to highlight good behaviour on South Downs

Mel Humphreys says having Jasper has given her a reason to get out every day
Mel Humphreys says having Jasper has given her a reason to get out every day

EVERY dog has its day and in the case of four ordinary canines, it will be on the big screen, watched by up to 50,000 people.

The canine stars were chosen to highlight good behaviour in the South Downs National Park and their films will be seen on the Brighton Big Screen from tomorrow.

Gerri Hickman says Tilly enjoys everything out on a walk and Cissbury Ring is one of their favourite places

Gerri Hickman says Tilly enjoys everything out on a walk and Cissbury Ring is one of their favourite places

All the films will be shown at a special dog-friendly screening of 101 Dalmatians on Sunday, sponsored by the National Park Authority as part of the Take the Lead campaign, welcoming responsible dog walkers to the South Downs. They will also be put on before other films on the Brighton Big Screen from tomorrow until September 13.

Jasper the black labrador, owned by Mel Humphreys from Southwick, and Tilly the border terrier and Jack Russell cross, owned by Gerri Hickman from East Preston, were two of the dogs chosen.

Phil Belden, director of operations at the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “The South Downs National Park is a great place to exercise your dog and I know from taking my own dog out what great physical, social and mental benefits there are for owners, too.

“With recent stories about the harm caused by owners who don’t control their dogs, it’s time to celebrate the well-trained dogs and their owners who are out there taking the lead – for example by keeping their dog on a lead when in a field with sheep.”

The films aim to show the majority of people do act responsibly, with the hope of encouraging better behaviour from the small minority who not pick up after their pet or have the dog under proper control.

Mel said: “I have multiple sclerosis, so use a wheelchair. Being disabled meant that I wasn’t getting out very much but having Jasper has given me a reason to get out every day.

“People talk to you when you have a dog and I’ve made new friends through him.

“It’s been great to discover the wheelchair accessible trail at Seven Sisters and the South Downs National Park gives Jasper different smells and experiences.

“My key message to other dog walkers is be responsible at all times respect where you are and clear up after your dog. It’s for everyone, not just for dog walkers.”

Gerri said: “I love walking Tilly in the South Downs National Park, there’s so much variety. Tilly is such a character – she means everything to me.

“Tilly enjoys everything out on a walk, particularly anything to do with a tennis ball. Cissbury Ring is one of our favourite places.

“A good recall is very important, particularly in the National Park. You could be coming out through the trees and straight on to a field of livestock. Your dog could be really gentle but the excitement of the chase could override them coming back to you.”

The other two dogs chosen were Sage the chocolate labrador, owned by Alyson from Aldershot, and Jack the rescue dog, owned by Natalie from Burridge.

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