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  • Northside East

Dog owners protest over park bye-law decision

Monday, 3rd December, 2018 8:00am
Dog owners protest over park bye-law decision

Some of the protestors outside Fingal County Hall in Swords.

Dog owners protest over park bye-law decision

Some of the protestors outside Fingal County Hall in Swords.

A GROUP of dog owners are pleading with Fingal County Council to give their members more space in public parks to have their dogs off leash.   

Fingal Dog Owners Group (D.O.G) was formed in opposition to the council’s newly adopted bye-law which restricts dogs “to very tiny designated off leash areas of public parks”. 

Fingal D.O.G believes the laws were made without first seeking input from dog behaviourists, trainers and dog welfare organisations. 

The group, has rallied together gaining support of over 1,000 people with a growing petition of over 5,000 signatures in less than two months. 

The group’s members held a protest outside Fingal County Hall in Swords last week with over 160 people in attendance. 

Representatives of the group are also scheduled to meet council officials this coming week to discuss the issue. 

Ciara Deery, a spokesperson for Fingal D.O.G, said the new bye-law is unfair to dogs and their owners. “It prevents them from providing adequate exercise for their dogs while alienating them on a social level from other park users by confining them to an extremely small enclosed space which amounts to 1.4 percent of total park space,” said Ms Deery.

“Dog parks have been proven by dog specialists to be a dangerous environment for both owners and dogs. 

“We have received additional messages of support from the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) and a number of other animal welfare experts. 

“Our members are outraged at the imposition of Fingal County Council’s Parks and Open Spaces Bye-Laws. 

“We feel this new law is restrictive and discriminatory, in turn causing great stress to law-abiding citizens of north county Dublin.” 

Ms Deery pointed out that some of their members with mobility issues have expressed particular concerns about the suitability and accessibility of the proposed designated off leash areas. 

“We want total reversal of the new bye-law to the old bye-law and stronger enforcement by the council with an emphasis on good dog ownership,” she added.

In a statement to Northside People, Fingal County Council said the new Parks and Open Spaces Bye-laws have been created to reflect the needs of all of Fingal’s park users. 

“They aim to make parks and open spaces safer, cleaner and more enjoyable for everyone,” said a council spokesperson. 

“An extensive consultation process, including seven ‘Roadshow’ events at parks across the region, was completed prior to the bye-laws being adopted by councillors last year.  

“A majority of the people surveyed during the consultation process expressed a desire to have dogs in parks and open spaces kept on a leash other than in areas designated as off-leash or at times specified by the council. The bye-laws were introduced in June.”

The council said the amended bye-laws provide for extensive designated off-leash areas in larger public parks provided dogs are still under adequate control. 

“In smaller enclosed parks, dogs may be off leash up until 11am in the morning and for the last hour before the park closes in the evening,” said the spokesperson.

“In all residential open spaces, dogs may be off-leash at all times provided again that they are under adequate control. 

“Dog owners remain free to walk their dogs throughout the parks in Fingal provided they keep their dog on a leash.”

The spokesperson added: “Off-leash dog walking is provided for on a managed basis in all of Fingal’s Parks & Open Spaces and Fingal County Council believes that the new bye-laws provide a balanced approach ensuring the parks can be enjoyed by all our park users.”  

Details of the new bye-laws are available on the Fingal County Council website.

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