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28 Sept 2022

Committee expresses concern over animal welfare issues

Dog fouling

Cllr Paul Fleming: "There is no excuse for not picking up after your pet and there are very real risks if you allow animals to foul on pavements."

Pet owners must follow the rules around responsible ownership or face a fine, was the message laid out at a Council meeting.

Derry and Strabane Council's Health and Community Committee met to discuss its Dog Control Service Work Plan and Enforcement Policy.

Animal welfare was also the focus at the meeting, with a presentation by Rainbow Rehoming Centre, and Pet FBI, and members received a report on the latest activity by the Council's Animal Welfare Service in terms of enforcement and prosecution.

The Committee heard that from April 1, 2021 until January 21, 2022, Derry City & Strabane District Council has received 302 animal welfare calls, resulting in 257 Animal Welfare cases.

Animal Welfare Officers (AWO) have undertaken 428 enforcement Inspections in the Council area resulting in four improvement notices, three seizures, one formal caution and one successful prosecution.

A number of legal cases are currently pending in the Council area. Since the service's inception in 2012, the AWOs have helped 58,909 animals across the Western region.

Members agreed that following concerns about the demand for animal welfare services locally, officers would look into the possibility of introducing a dedicated animal welfare officer for the Derry and Strabane area.

In a report brought by Council's Head of Health and Community Wellbeing, Seamus Donaghy, the committee heard more about the campaign to address a range issues including dog fouling, licensing, straying, and enforcement, and the ongoing work of the Dog Control Service to promote responsible dog ownership.

During the Covid pandemic there has been a rise in the number of dogs locally, with over 8000 dogs now kept within the Council area. Mr Donaghy warned that a zero tolerance approach would be taken against anyone in breach of the regulations and the Dog Control Orders introduced for the council area.

Speaking after the meeting, Chair of the Health and Community Committee, Cllr Paul Fleming of Sinn Féin, praised the work of the Dog Control and Animal Welfare teams but said he was disappointed to hear that some owners continue to break the rules at the expense of others.

He said: “Anyone thinking about getting a dog should be prepared to take full responsibility for their pet, particularly when it comes to their welfare, licensing and dog fouling.

“More needs to be done to educate people about the importance of socialisation, vet fees and what's actually involved in caring for pets. Dog fouling in particular is something that affects everyone, and anyone who owns a dog has a duty to ensure they pick up after their pet.

“Throughout the pandemic we have seen a significant increase in the number of local dogs which has further exacerbated what was already a problem issue here.

“In recent months Council has channelled significant resources into a districtwide public awareness campaign, and also boosted dog warden patrols in hotspot areas. But some people continue to ignore the warnings and continue to break the rules.

“There is no excuse for not picking up after your pet and there are very real risks if you allow animals to foul on pavements or other areas used by children in particular.

“In extreme cases Toxocariasis contracted from animal faeces can cause sickness, seizures and possibly even blindness.

“So your failure to act could have serious consequences. Not to mention the fact that it's against the law and you could end up with an £80 on the spot fine.

“So once again I am appealing to everyone to do their bit and remember to Bag It, and Bin It.”

If an area needs cleaned this can be reported to: www.derrystrabane.com/Services/Bins-and-Recycling/Street-Cleaning

Dog fouling can be reported to the Dog Control Team at Council on 02871 253253 or via email at: dogcontrol@derrystrabane.com

Application forms for a dog licence, or for the renewal of one, are available from council offices and online. You can find out more information and licence your dog online at: www.derrystrabane.com/Online-Services/Dog-Licences

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