Over 40 dog attacks in Derry and Strabane

The injuries inflicted on three-year-old Riley after he was attacked by a dog in Creggan.
The injuries inflicted on three-year-old Riley after he was attacked by a dog in Creggan.

There have been over 40 attacks on people in the local council area over the past year, it has emerged.

Irresponsible dog owners have been warned to “catch themselves on” following a string of episodes across Derry and Strabane.

Newly released figures presented to the council’s Health and Community Committee at its July meeting show that overall, the council dealt with 1,651 complaints and serviced requests about dogs over the year.

Over 400 of these were regarding animal welfare issues and there were 601 animal welfare visits - a 42 per cent increase on the previous year.

There were 43 dog attacks on people across the city and district in the year to the start of April 2017.

In a further incident last month, a three-year-old boy required surgery after a stray dog bit through his ear.

Aisling O’Hagan’s son, Riley, was left bloodied after the incident at in Creggan. Ms. O’Hagan has since called on local dog owners to exercise greater control over their pets.

The attack on the little boy was raised by independent councillor, Gary Donnelly, at the committee’s meeting in Strabane on Thursday.

Colr. Donnelly said there was still a “hard core” of people who have dogs but do not look after them.

“Having a dog is a responsibility and people need to catch themselves on before a child is killed,” he warned.

Derry & Strabane District Council dealt with 470 stray and unwanted dogs over the past year, the new report brought before the council has confirmed.

A total of 30 dogs, 15 strays and a further 15 unwanted pets, were “humanely destroyed” over the course of the year to the start of April, 2017.

The numbers of dogs coming through local pounds, however, has fallen since the previous (2015/16) year, when there were 535 strays or unwanted pets, 42 of which were destroyed.

The figures were revealed in a new report on the Dog Control Work Plan 2016-2017.

A report brought before the committee stated that “the overall number of stray dogs are simply unwanted dogs that the owners have decided to abandon.”

SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack welcomed increased enforcement activity across the council, but said: “We are still seeing dogs being put down which is never a good thing.”

Colr. Cusack commended officers on the work they had undertaken to date across the city and district promoting responsible dog ownership.