Over 300 animal welfare calls in 10 months in Derry & Strabane

Over 300 calls over animal welfare have been lodged with Derry & Strabane Council in the last 10 months alone, it has been revealed.
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The Council’s Health & Community Committee was told that this has led to 257 Animal Welfare cases being initiated locally.

Animal welfare was discussed at the committee’s February meeting, with representatives from Rainbow Rehoming Centre and Pet FBI speaking to the committee, while a report on the latest activity by the Council’s Animal Welfare Service in terms of enforcement and prosecution was also tabled.

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The Committee heard that from April 1, 2021 until January 21, 2022, Derry City & Strabane District Council has received 302 animal welfare calls. Animal Welfare Officers (AWO) have undertaken 428 enforcement inspections in the city and district resulting in four improvement notices, three seizures, one formal caution and one successful prosecution.

Pup. (File picture)Pup. (File picture)
Pup. (File picture)

A number of legal cases are currently pending in the Council area. Since the service’s inception in 2012, the AWOs have helped 58,909 animals across the Western region.

Meanwhile a message went out that pet owners must follow the rules around responsible ownership or face a fine, as elected representatives discussed the Council’s Dog Control Service Work Plan and Enforcement Policy.

Council’s Head of Health and Community Wellbeing, Seamus Donaghy, gave an update on the campaign to address a range issues including dog fouling, licensing, straying, and enforcement, and the ongoing work of the Dog Control Service to promote responsible dog ownership. During the Covid pandemic there has been a rise in the number of dogs locally, with over 8,000 dogs now kept within the Council area. Mr Donaghy warned that a zero tolerance approach would be taken against anyone in breach of the regulations

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Chair of the Committee, Councillor Paul Fleming, praised the work of the Dog Control and Animal Welfare teams but said he was disappointed to hear that some owners continue to break the rules at the expense of others. “Anyone thinking about getting a dog should be prepared to take full responsibility for their pet, particularly when it comes to their welfare, licensing and dog fouling. More needs to be done to educate people about the importance of socialisation, vet fees and what’s actually involved in caring for pets. Dog fouling in particular is something that affects everyone, and anyone who owns a dog has a duty to ensure they pick up after their pet,” he stressed. “There is no excuse for not picking up after your pet and there are very real risks if you allow animals to foul on pavements or other areas used by children in particular. In extreme cases Toxocariasis contracted from animal faeces can cause sickness, seizures and possibly even blindness.”

Cats (File picture)Cats (File picture)
Cats (File picture)

Proposing a paper is brought back looking at having a dedicated animal welfare officer in the city and district, Alliance Councillor Rachael Ferguson said: “I had a constituent come to me this week and say they had seen a dog abused in the city centre being hit by its owner and when they rang animal welfare they couldn’t get them. Then when they rang the police they were referred to animal welfare who didn’t get back to them about it.”

Agreeing, UUP Alderman Derek Hussey said: “We have reached a stage when Derry City and Strabane District Council deserves its own animal welfare service.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Michaela Boyle added: “When you see these stats it’s glaringly obvious there is the need for a dedicated animal welfare officer within our own city and district.

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“I talk regularly to the dog wardens in our area and I’m well aware of the demands on them.”

The proposal passed.

Dog fouling can be reported on 02871 253253 or via [email protected]

If an area needs cleaned this can be reported to www.derrystrabane.com/Services/Bins-and-Recycling/Street-CleaningFor information on dog licences see www.derrystrabane.com/Online-Services/Dog-LicencesBy Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter