Grieving dad's plea for cemetery dog ban to be heard by Holyrood

A ‘no dogs in cemeteries’ policy, with exceptions for assistance dogs, was previously in place across Edinburgh’s 43 burial grounds and lifted due to the pandemic.

Grieving Edinburgh dad’s plea for dogs to be banned from cemeteries to be heard by Holyrood committee Police Scotland

A petition launched by a grieving dad calling for a law to be passed making exercising a dog in a cemetery an offence punishable by an on the spot fine for infringement is to be heard by a Holyrood committee on Wednesday.

Paul Irvine has been calling for the change to be introduced in Edinburgh since 2022 after noticing dogs were destroying items left by mourners and urinating on headstones.

His son Xander Irvine, three, was killed after being struck by a car on Morningside Road in 2020. He was walking along the street with his mum Victoria when a car mounted the pavement and crashed into a shop front.

Paul, whose home overlooks Morningside Cemetery where Xander is buried, said the situation is “adding to his grief”.

He said the situation “hasn’t changed” despite the council introducing signage asking for dogs to be kept on a lead.

The petition, which will be heard at the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee on Wednesday read: “I am a father who lost his three-year-old son in 2020. We live opposite where our son is buried and visit his grave at least once a day. Whilst visiting my son’s grave, my family have witnessed up to 100 people exercising their dogs daily with dogs being let off-lead or on long leads, resulting in them urinating and defecating on graves, including that of my own son, and damaging teddies left by the public.

“I have approached dog walkers to explain my issue. Most of the time I have been met with hostility and even threats of violence.

“We witness some dog walkers driving to the cemetery, obviously from another area, just to exercise their dog.

“Pre-Covid the Edinburgh Council rule was no dogs apart from assistance dogs.

“We feel this is not enough of a deterrent, and a law is needed with an exception for dogs with mourners and assistance dogs.”

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