Agenda item

Dog Control

Minutes:

In response to the issues raised regarding dog fouling and dog control, the Head of Health and Community Wellbeing stated that an increased number of complaints had been reported and that recently an internal meeting was held with a number of different departments where it was agreed to authorise more Council staff to take action in relation to irresponsible dog ownership.  He stated that Members would be aware that Council have introduced more dog control orders and that messaging would also be reinforced with an increase in the patrols across the city and district.

 

                        Councillor Edwards stated that he had raised the issue of dog fouling at a recent meeting of the Environment and Regeneration Committee and had been advised to raise it at this Committee.  He stated that dog fouling was a major issue throughout the Sperrin and Derg DEAs and he had received a commitment from street cleansing that they would clean up the dog fouling in those areas.  He expressed concern regarding the lack of enforcement and felt that more action needed to be taken.  He stated during his 8 months as an Elected Representative, he had yet to see a dog warden in his DEA and would like to see more visibility of enforcement in both the Sperrin and Derg DEAs.  He stated that it was time for Council to do more and whilst he realised the pandemic has probably exacerbated the problem with more people out walking, the dog warden and enforcement officers had to be seen out and about in those areas.

 

                        Councillor Ferguson stated that she had also been contacted regarding dog fouling issues throughout the rural areas and that one person in particular had a child fall on dog foul at Lougheramore Forest.  She advised that the ranger said that it was the responsibility of Council to supply dog bins in that area and she asked the Head of Health and Community Wellbeing to consider placing more bins in rural forestry areas to make them available to people enjoying our nature.

 

                        Councillor Mooney stated that he supported the comments made by the previous speakers.  He stated that he had also been contacted by constituents regarding the same issue, particularly from residents of the Seven Oaks area of the Waterside.  He stated that he had contacted street cleansing on the matter.  He understood that due to the restrictions that more people remained at home and needed to get outdoors, however irresponsible dog owners must be urged to clean up after their pets.

 

                        Alderman Devenney stated that he had raised the issue of dog control on many occasions and agreed that dog fouling was a major issue and with the increased volume of dog walkers throughout the city and district and he welcomed the increase in dog control officers. 

 

                        Councillor Gallagher stated that dog fouling had been an ongoing issue going back several years.  He stated that the pandemic has increased the problem and Strabane town was particularly bad with dog fouling.  He stated that more action needed to be taken by Council.  He believed that dog wardens could not solve this problem and that more signs should be erected with temporary CCTV put in operation across the hotspots in Strabane.  He stated that this would be a temporary solution and suggested that Council fully investigate a long term solution.  He advised that he had previously raised at Council, the potential of the DNA project to tackle dog fouling.  He felt that this would eradicate the problem.  He believed that Council should investigate this approach and compile a business case as it had proved successful in other council areas.

 

                        Alderman Warke concurred with the sentiments expressed by Councillor Gallagher on the matter.  He stated that all Members were receiving calls daily on the matter.  He asked if Council could make a no dog zone area in certain areas, particularly beside play facilities.

 

                        In response, the Head of Health and Community Wellbeing advised that Council had a dog exclusion order that related to play areas, therefore dogs should not be in those areas and would follow up on the matter.

 

                        The Chair stated that he concurred with all of the comments made by the previous speakers on the matter.  He stated that calls from the public had increased tenfold since the lockdown period and there were inconsiderate dog owners who did not care.  He felt that once people were aware that fines had been issued, they may become more cautious.  He said that there was also a recurring dog control issue at a park in the Drumahoe area where people were letting dogs run off leash and that some had attacked other dogs that were on leads.

 

                        Councillor R Barr Proposed, Seconded by Councillor Edwards

 

That Council adopt a zero tolerance policy in relation to dog fouling and dog control.

 

Councillor Edwards stated that whilst looking at the statistics for dog fouling in the Council area over the last three years and noticed that Derry and Strabane had issued 6 fines up to 2020 while Ards and North Down Borough Council had issued 475.  He stated that Council needed to take the issue more seriously.

 

Members were asked to vote on the Proposal, the result of which was unanimous.

 

The Committee

 

Recommended        That this Council reassign furloughed and casual staff to the role of dog wardens, that can be distributing poo bags, provide information leaflets, as well as providing a physical presence on the ground particularly in hotspots.

 

                                    That Council also agrees to look at additional actions to tackle dog fouling across the district including the use of DNA testing and CCTV.