I am livid after the actions of irresponsible dog owners who allow their pets to use it as a public toilet, has forced residents in Donaghadee to request the re-siting of the VC Memorial to Lieutenant WD Kenny.
The Memorial is based on a template used without issue for all of the many similar VC Memorials around the UK. In agreement with the Kenny family, it is situated on the promenade behind the War Memorial. However, it has become a regular toilet stop for dogs whose owners show no respect for the memory of Lieutenant WD Kenny who served in the Indian Army and gave his life after showing gallant leadership at Kot Kai, India in 1920.
The vast majority of dog owners in our Borough are both responsible and considerate, adhering to the by-laws and understanding the responsibilities that come along with pet ownership.
But it is the minority of dog-owners who do not control their pets that are causing concern to all of us – and frankly costing us all substantial amounts of money in monitoring and prosecuting the perpetrators.
This most recent example of irresponsible pet ownership by a few people who have a total disregard for the respect we show our war heroes has made me very angry. For a dog owner to allow their pet to urinate against a memorial to a man who gave his life serving his country is the height of disrespect both for him, his surviving family and our community which has chosen to remember his sacrifice.”
Dog fouling is one of the top concerns for residents. Along with my colleagues, I regularly survey different areas of the Borough asking residents about their main concerns. Invariably the number one issue is that of inconsiderate pet owners allowing their dogs to foul our streets or ignore other by-laws like keeping them on leads in particular areas during specific times.
Regardless of the best efforts of our already diligent Council Enforcement Teams, we know there are dog owners who let their pets foul our footpaths by walking them at night or the early hours of the morning to avoid detection. Then there are those who go to the trouble of lifting the mess, but leave the bag sitting on a garden wall or in a gutter instead of carrying it to a bin – or even disposing of it at home if necessary.
It’s frustrating, it’s disgusting and it’s dangerous. All faeces contains bacteria that can cause stomach upsets if ingested. However, the greatest risk to public health from dog faeces – and particularly to our children – is toxocariasis which at the extreme can cause blindness.
Nobody – least of all me – wants to restrict the enjoyment we get from our pets. My family has had a wide variety of dogs from Red Setters to Corgis and Collies to Shih Tzus, so I appreciate the joy and pleasure dogs provide.
But as a community we have a right to expect that with dog ownership come responsibilities, and to insist that dog owners show respect to our shared public spaces.
I’m fed up with having to make allowances for irresponsible dog owners. I’m going to ask that Council is even more rigorous in its enforcement of our by-laws around dog ownership. Over the coming months I will highlight the issue at every opportunity, and I would encourage responsible dog owners and members of the public to come forward and report all unacceptable behaviour.