NEVER mind elections, what about a subject that stirs up far stronger feelings than the economy and taxation – dogs.

As in politics there doesn’t seem to a lot of consensus where canine issues are concerned.

You are either categorised as a dog lover or dog hater, there’s very little middle ground.

Cards-on-the-table time. I have always felt uneasy in the presence of our four- legged ‘best’ friends.

It’s something I put down to years as a paperboy running a gauntlet of growling and gnashing teeth as packs, often of four or five mongrels at a time, chased after.

I have also carried with me for years a vivid recollection of an unfriendly Alsatian jumping up when I was a baby in a pram.

My mother says the latter never happened and that she would have known if it had. As far as she’s concerned it’s a case of what psychologists now call false memory syndrome.

In contrast however my son has happily shared his home for at least five years with two spaniels (and his wife!).

Yet he needed hospital treatment for cuts and bruises after being jumped on by a demented Doberman and crashing while doing a paper round as a 13-year-old.

No wonder then that news of a major review, which could see dogs allowed back into some Burnley parks (albeit only on leads), produced plenty of strong reaction.

For those who don’t remember, dog control orders brought in the late 1970s by Burnley council banned such pets from Thompson and Queens Parks.

Proportionately that decision caused nearly as much trouble locally as the run-up to giving equal voting rights to women did nationally half a century earlier.

Altogether 3,500 Burnley protesting dog owners marched on Downing Street and a man and woman each went to prison for deliberately disobeying the orders.

Now at a time when dogs are barred from so many other public places there’s a public consultation under way to see whether the measures should be relaxed.

Some dog owners argue that on a lead and accompanied by an owner who carefully bags and bins any droppings there’s really no problem.

Others say that to get proper exercise their animals need to be able to run about freely.

I’m with the woman who said: “Some dog walkers honestly believe that parks were created for dogs. There should be designated places for dogs, but not the best parks in Burnley.” And I would add that if these areas are to be specially created, the dog owners should pay for them through a special levy.

Perhaps then our parks would also stand a chance of attracting some of the wildlife to be seen in the more isolated areas of England’s countryside where, thank goodness, most dog owners cannot be bothered to roam.