A heartbroken father who lost his three-year-old son in a tragic road accident has called for a ban on dogs in all Scottish cemeteries. Paul Irvine said he was appalled by the behaviour of some dog owners who let their pets snatch and damage the teddies left at his son’s grave.
Xander Irvine’s death
Xander Irvine was walking with his mum on Morningside Road in Edinburgh on June 30, 2020, when they were hit by a red Kia car driven by a 91-year-old woman. The toddler suffered fatal injuries and died at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary later that day. His mum, Victoria, was also taken to hospital with minor injuries and was released shortly after. The driver of the car, Edith Duncan, was arrested and charged in connection with the incident but died before the case went to court.
Paul Irvine’s plea
Paul Irvine said he buried his son in Morningside cemetery, very close to where he lived, so he could visit his grave whenever he needed to. He said he was touched by the kindness of the people who left teddies and flowers at his son’s grave, but soon noticed that some of them were missing or damaged. He realised that it was dogs being walked in the cemetery that were responsible for this. He said he did not blame the dogs, but the irresponsible owners who let them off the lead or on long extendable leads.
He said he had witnessed dogs grabbing the teddies in front of him or from his window which overlooked the cemetery. He said he had also seen dogs urinating on graves and headstones, including his son’s. He said he had to speak to dog walkers on a daily basis, often getting abuse and even threats. He said he had raised the matter with his local MP and managed to persuade them to implement the rule of having all dogs on leads, but the situation had not changed.
He said he wanted the rules to change for his son and his memory, and called for a ban on dogs in all Scottish cemeteries. He said he did not understand why people would choose to walk their dogs in a place of respect and mourning, when there were plenty of other places to do so. He said he hoped that his plea would make people more considerate and respectful of the graves and the families who visit them.
Reaction from the public
Paul Irvine’s plea has sparked a debate among the public, with some supporting his cause and others defending the rights of dog owners. Some people said they agreed that dogs should be banned from cemeteries, or at least kept on short leads and away from graves. They said they sympathised with Paul Irvine and his family, and that dogs could cause distress and damage to the graves and the items left by the loved ones.
Others said they disagreed with the ban, and that dogs should be allowed in cemeteries as long as they were well-behaved and supervised by their owners. They said they did not see any harm in walking their dogs in cemeteries, and that it was a peaceful and quiet place to do so. They said they did not mean any disrespect to the graves or the families, and that they always cleaned up after their dogs and kept them away from the teddies and flowers.