We regret that no dogs (except guide dogs) are permitted within the main Barns complex or outside the Car Park Area.
As Ian Russell explains:
Dear Dog Owner,
I am so sorry that we are unable to permit visitors to bring their dogs into the main Wroxham Barns Complex or grass areas adjacent to the Barns. Obviously we allow Guide or “assist” dogs to enter.
I am keen to explain why we take this position and hope this open letter will be helpful. By way of introduction, I am a dog owner, we have two much loved west highland terriers (Harvey and Nicks) so I am well aware of the concerns of dog owners.
Many attractions do not allow dogs and I would always advise you to check with attractions before your start out on your journey. There are many very good websites which allow you to search for facilities that allow dogs; in Norfolk, I would recommend www.visitnorfolk.co.uk or www.enjoythebroads.co.uk, both of which have a search facility.
So why do we not allow dogs into Wroxham Barns? Firstly, the uncomfortable truth is that whilst MOST dog owners are responsible and do not allow their dogs to foul pathways and public areas, regrettably a minority are not so responsible. In addition, even if you use a “poop scoop”, sometimes it is simply not possible to remove every trace of faeces from surfaces, such as gravel and grass. You will be aware of the dangers of bacteria in dog faeces, particularly to young children.
The basis of the advice on which we base our decision is as follows: The main danger to human health in dog faeces is the presence of the eggs of Toxocara Canis. This is a roundworm which lives, harmlessly, in dogs but presents severe danger to humans. A dog can pass 15,000 eggs in just one gram of faeces. There are two ways that the ingestion of Toxocara eggs can harm humans.
The first is when a large number of eggs hatch inside the body. The spread of the larvae often lead to extreme fever and illness. This happens because the human body rejects them and tries to pass them through the liver. The second way that these larvae can harm humans is much more dramatic. If a single larva invades one of the body’s most delicate structures, such as the retina, severe damage can occur, leading to severe visual impairment or total blindness.
Damage from faeces is more prevalent in young children, but this is often because they are less aware of correct hygiene procedure than older children or adults. However, their immune system is weaker than that of adults, which puts them at more risk of succumbing to illness. It is therefore essential to keep a close eye on them when visiting parks and gardens or the beach, even in the street. It is also essential that dog owners act as responsibly as they can to ensure that open spaces are as safe as possible for children. As well as cleaning up after their dogs, their pets should be wormed regularly to destroy the roundworms which are the cause of the problem.
With an estimated 900 tonnes of dog faeces produced every day in the UK, it is vital for both owners and parents of small children to be as vigilant as possible. Small children are always putting their fingers in their mouths, and there is no point trying to teach them not to.
On the other hand, it is not practical to keep them indoors and away from danger all day long. However, it is possible for children to play outside. Vigilant parents should carry a pack of disinfectant wipes with them when taking children to play, especially in grassy areas. Even when responsible owners do clear up after their pets, traces of faeces and Toxocara can remain, especially where the dog has been on grass. This is especially problematic as, although, there is no faeces to be seen, the danger is now an invisible one, and what looks like a safe place is actually infected and dangerous.
We recently took part in a Facebook debate on this subject and a contributor (a dog owner not supportive of our position) made the point that surely responsible parents should supervise their children so they did not crawl on the ground. Fair point…but there is the rub. There are irresponsible children, children whose behavior puts them at risk and there a small number of dog owners who let the majority down.
We conclude that the risks are too great, particularly on the grass areas where visitors picnic and children play. Thus, reluctantly, we have for many years not allowed dogs within the main complex area or the grass adjacent to the children’s area, picnic tables and play equipment.
We do monitor what is normal practice with visitor attractions in the context of permitting/not permitting dogs. There are certainly some attractions that do welcome dogs, but most do not, particularly those who have children or animal orientated facilities (we have both).
If you would like to discuss this matter further, please feel free to contact me. In the meantime, my very best wishes
Ian Russell MBE
Wroxham Barns Ltd
Direct dial 01603 777101
Mobile 07850 504447