St Luke's Day was also Dog Whipping Day, the day when all stray dogs were whipped out of town. Judging from the increasing number of complaints I am getting about dog fouling, there's a considerable number of Brighton and Hove citizens who would happily revive the tradition and apply it to all dogs.
Me, I'm a dog owner between dogs. My last dog - a rescue greyhound - died suddenly and we are still mourning his loss. I like dogs, and I know that most dog owners act responsibly, cleaning up after their companions and keeping them under proper control.
However, a small but significant number of dog owners act irresponsibly and let their dogs crap anywhere. And there's the increasing number of aggressive pit-bull type dogs around. When they are on the lead, which isn't very often, I have the uncomfortable feeling,in some cases, the dog is more intelligent than the human being at the other end of the lead.
Wandsworth responded to public concern about the number of serious assaults involving dogs by promoting the micro-chipping of all dogs in the borough. It's gone as far as making micro-chipping of dogs a condition of holding a council tenancy. Lambeth and Southwark have followed suit. Both the Labour and Tory parties support the nationwide roll-out of the scheme, and the idea is supported by the RSPCA, which holds free dog-chipping sessions, and the Dogs Trust.
Government stats show a 36 per cent rise in the number of people needing hospital treatment after dog attacks between 2004 (2,802) and 2008 (3,837). In Sussex the number admitted to hospital rose from 56 to 78 in the same period, a rise of 40 per cent.
I wholeheartedly support the idea, as along as a free service is available to people struggling on low incomes, not least the many older people who take great comfort from their dogs. Not being able to afford to have your dog chipped should not be a barrier to dog ownership.