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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

‘Pawsitive’ initiative launches with exclusive times for guide dogs at Antrim dog parks

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has allocated one hour each morning for exclusive use of a section its dog parks for guide dogs.

The council has received a request from a guide dog owner and a support worker from Guide Dogs for the Blind Association for sole use of an area of the borough’s dog parks where these dogs can exercise.

A report to councillors says that guide dogs are unable to be let off the lead to exercise in the parks with other dogs present.

The council has dog parks at Antrim Forum and Valley Park in Newtownabbey.

It was agreed at a meeting of the council’s Operations Committee last week that guide dogs could have exclusive use of one section of the borough’s dog parks for exercise each day between 10am and 11am.

Signage will request dog park users to give preference to guide dogs during this time.

Speaking at the meeting, Antrim Ulster Unionist Councillor Jim Montgomery said:

“Unsurprisingly, since this is one of my favourite charities, I would be more than delighted to see this plan – facilities for guide dogs to give them a  chance to get off the lead and have a bit of fun. It is a good idea and a great initiative.”

Guide Dogs NI was one of Cllr Montgomery’s nominated charities for which he raised £12,000 during his year as Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey from 2020 until 2021.

Ballyclare DUP Alderman Mandy Girvan agreed that it would be a “great initiative”.

However, she expressed concern about how it would be monitored and asked for the scheme to be reviewed.

“We need to make sure it is being used so that it is not lying empty and other people can’t use it.”


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