Council plans are an attack on ‘responsible dog owners’

Young dog protesters at Portrush.MARK JAMIESON.
Young dog protesters at Portrush.MARK JAMIESON.

THE dog control orders that Coleraine Borough Council have put out for consultation are an “attack on responsible dog owners,” according to a member of the Barking Mad protest group.

Stephen Creighton delivered the stinging criticism during a meeting of Council’s Leisure Committee in Cloonavin last Tuesday evening.

Mr Creighton, a member of the ‘Barking Mad’ protest group outlined the group’s objections to the proposed control orders.

Just last month around a thousand dog owners staged a protest walk on Portrush’s West Bay – an area that could be designated a dog free zone by the proposals.

Mr Creighton told the meeting: “Excluding dogs from West Bay for 12 month of the year is an attack on responsible dog owners, as well as tourists and visitors.”

He questioned why dogs could not be permitted on the beach during the low season.

Mr Creighton said that the other areas suggested as alternatives to the beach at West Bay by Council were “not suitable.”

Part of the legislation refers to owners on keeping their dogs on leads.

Mr Creighton questioned the enforceability of the law, saying: “This is another layer of legislation that we cannot or won’t be able to enforce.

“Why bring in more legislation we won’t be able to enforce?”

Putting forward alternative proposals, Mr Creighton said that the control orders would have an impact on dog welfare, as dogs would not be able to exercise off a lead.

“The dogs on a lead order should be suppressed,” said the protest group member.

He suggested erecting more bins in fouling hotspots and bag dispensers. Better signage was also suggested as a way of tackling dog fouling.

UUP councillor and vet, David Harding stressed that the proposals had only been put out for consultation. He said: “We’ll revise what we are going to do – and that has been lost in all of this. No decision has been made.

“If anything this has allowed dog owners to engage with Council on this critical issue.

“We have no intention to penalise dog owners,” said the UUP man.

DUP alderman, Maurice Bradley, added “No decision has been taken. We need to hammer irresponsible dog owners, not responsible dog owners.”