Crackdown as dog attack reports soar

DUP Councillor Maurice Devenney.

DUP Councillor Maurice Devenney.

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The next phase of a crackdown on irresponsible dog owners is to be introduced as initial results show more people are now reporting dangerous and nuisance behaviour.

A new report on the Responsible Dog Ownership Strategy was brought before Derry City Council’s Environmental Services Committee meeting on Thursday.

The strategy was introduced in November 2013, with the aim of ensuring more dogs are licensed and microchipped in Derry.

A licensing amnesty was introduced over April and May this year, supported by the Dogs Trust UK, who offered the free microchipping across the city.

Almost 1,400 dogs were licensed in the six months to June this year- up around 50% on the year before. A total of 850 dogs were also neutered over that period.

The number of complaints about stray dogs rose to 326 for the first six months this year. The report states that the public are becoming “less tolerant” of dogs deliberately allowed to wander the streets. Fixed penalties for straying soared from 13 in the six months to June 2013, to 58 this year.

There were 38 dog attacks on people- more than doubled the 18 the year before.

A staggering 20 tonnes of dog poop was collected from the 280 poop bins in Derry last year.

A Derry-Strabane Dog Control working group has now been set up after 18 Derry council community and park wardens received enforcement training over the summer and have been authorised to serve fixed penalty notices alongside the city’s three dog and three litter wardens.

Sinn Fein Councillor Mickey Cooper welcomed the report, saying: “There is an impact being made certainly,” he said. “With regards to the amnesty, we should have been offering that as a regular event. It has proved its success.”

SDLP Councillor Sean Carr also welcomed the progress, while DUP Councillor Maurice Devenney said: “This is a very, very timely piece of work. Everything is not going to be sorted overnight, it is going to take a bit of time,” he added.