Council plans tough new crackdown on dog fouling

There were almost 200 complaints about stray dogs and dog fouling over a nine-week period in Derry.
There were almost 200 complaints about stray dogs and dog fouling over a nine-week period in Derry.

The owners of dogs witnessed fouling can now be traced through microchip scanners and forced to face the consequences, Derry City Council has revealed.

Fouling offences will be targeted as part of a tough new crackdown revealed after a question was posed by SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack at this week’s meeting of Derry City Council’s Environmental Services Committee.

Latest figures show that there were nearly 200 complaints about dog fouling and straying in Derry for the two months to the start of December 2014.

During a discussion on the latest developments in Derry City Council’s ongoing strategy to combat problems associated with dogs in the city, Colr. Cusack asked whether more dog wardens would be recruited by the council, adding:

“If a dog is seen fouling and the wardens witness this, are the wardens able to find out who owns them through the microchip?”

A senior council officer replied that this type of activity would increase. She also elaborated that the local authority had ensured that a lot more litter and park wardens were now authorised to take action on dog control issues.

She added that the council officers would be looking at resources as part of the wider review of services in the new supercouncil.

“We have taken a very measured approach and we have been very successful in our dog ownership campaign to date.

“The number of licensed dogs is drastically up,” the officer added.

Sinn Fein Councillor Mickey Cooper said the fact that there were so many complaints suggested that more people were paying attention to the issue.

The councillors were told that on January 1st, there was an amendment to the current legislation which removed the need for a coloured tag on dog collars, while there is now a renewed emphasis on ensuring that up-to-date contact information is maintained on microchip databases.

Colr. Cooper suggested that the council visit group settings where older people gather in the community to help spread awareness of this.

“A lot of senior citizens are not even aware of the need to get their dogs microchipped,” he said.

Colr. Cusack said the tags were a very visual symbol of a dog being licensed and asked whether in future there would be spot checks to see if dogs were licensed or not.

The officer responded that the dog wardens keep microchip scanners in their vans and will take these with them when routinely going about their daily business.

They also check on stray dogs, she added.

Meanwhile Derry’s dog wardens are to work with the Dogs Trust as they launch a free, limited-time offer of support to pet owners in Derry over the coming weeks.

The campaign will enable dog owners to have their contact details updated on the microchip databases free of charge.