ANBCouncil to call on residents to set up ‘Dog Watch’ schemes in bid to tackle fouling
Antrim and Newtownabbey residents are to be encouraged to set up ‘Dog Watch’ schemes as part of an initiative to clamp down on dog fouling.
Proposals have been outlined to councillors in a campaign by the council to target hotspot areas as the authority seeks to promote responsible dog ownership.
A report to be presented to the council’s Operations Committee on Monday evening says a Dog Watch scheme could involve liaison with either Neighbourhood Watch or community groups, installation of signage, engagement with dog walkers and distribution of bags with support from the council’s enforcement team.
The council acknowledges most dog owners across the borough are “responsible in relation to the behaviour of their dogs in public”.
However, the report says: “To encourage the few that do not, a new awareness campaign has been developed to highlight the particular issues that arise in a specific area.
“The messaging addresses not only the issue of dog fouling but also dogs that are off-lead in dog control areas or dogs not being kept under control whenon or off-lead and which can be alarming for people, including elderly and younger children who may not be comfortable around dogs.”
Antrim Alliance Councillor Neil Kelly, committee chair and a dog owner, said: “I am pleased to see this report coming forward because we need to work in partnership. Everyone has a role to play.”
He noted an issue with fouling at Antrim dog park a few months ago. However he said: “It is not just about dog fouling. It is about taking responsibility.”
He went on to say if residents want to set up a Dog Watch group, the council can help them do so.
“We are not expecting the public to walk up to people and tackle them about this but we are hoping members of the public will engage with us. It is about a bit of respect for others and a bit of common sense.”
He also commented that if people do not clean up after their dogs, they should be fined.
Glengormley DUP Councillor Alison Bennington, also a member of the Operations Committee, said she welcomed the idea of a partnership approach with the community to tackle dog fouling saying that it is “worth a try”.
“Something has to be done about it. Everybody should clean up after their dogs, all the time. If you have a dog, look after it and clean up after it,” she stated.
The cost of keeping the streets of Antrim and Newtownabbey clean amounts to £35.15 for each ratepayer, according to Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s Cleaner Neighbourhoods Report 2021/22, resulting in an overall cost of more than £2m.
Last January, councillors extended a dog ban at a park in Glengormley after an increase in fouling, excluding dogs from a ‘kickabout’ area at Sandyknowes Park as well as the playground. However, dogs may still be exercised off-lead in the remainder of the park.
Dogs have also been banned from the new sensory garden at Hazelbank in Newtownabbey with the exception of assistance dogs.