KILLJOY keepers at a private park have a mutt-any on their hands - after banning dog toys to protect the grass.
The Dean Gardens Management Committee are outlawing ball throwers and frisbees because eager hounds “running after balls at speed and braking” are tearing up turf.
But members and their pooches slammed the move as “nanny state” and are now threatening to launch a petition to get it overturned.
Stay at home mum-of-one Alejandra Ayala, 42, of Buckingham Terrace, said: “I totally disagree with it - I hope they change their minds.
“My friends are dog owners too and they feel the same. We were talking about starting a petition,” said Alejandra, cradling nine-week-old golden retriever, Mungo.
“I think it was actually more the children who damaged the gardens than the dogs because there’s a nursery with a key and they bring in 20 kids.
“When they put up that notice, a lot of people stopped coming to the park. They’ve even been seen scolding people for rolling a ball on the path - saying they can’t do that.”
So popular is the £115-a-year park, meanwhile, the committee has introduced a school-style catchment area for new members and a waiting list.
Artist Carol Harris, of Oxford Terrace, now faces finding somewhere else for 18-month-old black Labrador Dexter to chase his favourite ball.
“It’s nanny state and I think it’s unnecessary,” she said. “If they planted some tough grass seed in with the rest it would grow back like everything else.
“Or they could restrict it to areas - we still have football and cricket being played.
“I understand they don’t want bare grass all over the place but it’s teacher-ish - we have so many rules.
“As long as you’re picking up dog muck, obeying the rules and have a name on the dog collar - if you find yourself in a mud patch then you move elsewhere.”
But there was support for the under fire committee from violinist and musicologist PHD student Ruth Jacobs, from Dean Village.
“The grass was pretty much just pure mud last year for a while so it’s understandable why they’ve done it,” said the 28-year-old, walking eight-year-old black lab Juno for a friend.
“Everybody has a ball,” she added. “They’re not too strict in enforcing the ban as long as you don’t throw the ball for hours.”
Committee member George Leslie said the ban was imposed after booming numbers of dog walkers left the gardens looking like a “rugby field” last winter.
The move is designed to find a balance between dog walking and family members and is backed by the majority, argued Mr Leslie.
He reasoned rules have ben in place for over 100 years to avoid damage to the gardens and they remain “very open” to dog owning members.
“We had more dogs and it doesn’t take many people throwing things for big dogs and doing it repetitively to cause a lot of damage to the grass and lawns,” he added.