Authorities ‘passing the buck’ over dog - claim

Margaret Street in the city's Waterside, where a decomposed dog was discovered last week. Police are still appealing for the homeowner to come forward. (1307JB12)
Margaret Street in the city's Waterside, where a decomposed dog was discovered last week. Police are still appealing for the homeowner to come forward. (1307JB12)
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Residents in Derry’s Margaret Street, where the decomposed body of a dog was discovered last Sunday, claim that they alerted Derry City Council’s Environmental Health Department about the animal in question almost a month earlier.

Neighbours claim that as the infestation of bluebottles within the vacant house increased, six or seven phone calls that were made to Environmental Health over the four weeks previously went unnoticed. Only when residents called the PSNI was action was finally taken.

One resident, who lives directly opposite, recalls seeing the abandoned “lovely, tan Boxer” dog at the window of the vacant property as far back as Christmas. At that time, neighbours contacted Rainbow Rehoming Centre and a member of the animal shelter came out but couldn’t see any sign of the animal through the windows. “At least they tried,” neighbour Noel McBride said.

“The dog barked at me every time I went out to the car, but the last time we heard it bark was probably around the start of May,” he explained. “Then bluebottles started appearing at the windows, hundreds of them, and as they got worse, we began to worry. We hadn’t see anyone near that house since Christmas.”

The issue was then reported to Environmental Health several times by various neighbours, to no avail. “We personally reported it to Environmental Health three times, and I know other neighbours reported it too, and every time they said they’d send someone out. They never did.”

With a foul smell now emanating from the property, residents took matters into their own hands and contacted the police on Sunday morning. “Police cars arrived within ten minutes and they had a battering ram and smashed the door open,” Mr McBride said. “One of the policemen went inside and let out a roar because of the smell. The police later told us, ‘You were right, sir, the dog was dead.’

Police are still trying to locate the homeowner.

Mr McBride said: “It’s a disgrace. I love dogs and it must have been an awfully brutal way to die, starving the way it did. Nobody had been near that house to see it or feed it since Christmas.”

Mr McBride is particularly critical of the authorities. “Environmental Health said it wasn’t their job and they thought it was a matter for the police. I know I speak for other residents when I say we tried to do the right thing, but they were just passing the buck.” A spokesperson for Derry City Council stated that Council was advised by PSNI that a dead dog had been found in a vacant property at Margaret Street, Derry. Council officers attended and assisted with the removal of the dog to Omagh for forensic examination.

Council officers are continuing with enquiries with regard to ownership of the property with a view to ensuring that appropriate action is taken to clean and secure the premises.