Can’t people learn how to control and also clean up after their dogs

Dogs can be found wandering in every public space, free to soil gardens and pathways, barking at will, while their owners give two fingers to the rest of the community. Dog fouling has become a national issue, but it’s not being tackled, so says Trevor Laffan in his weekly column
Can’t people learn how to control and also clean up after their dogs

"We have an issue with the lack of control of dogs in public. Uncontrolled dogs are roaming our streets and housing estates, causing a public nuisance while their owners refuse to control them."

THERE was an incident in Cobh recently where a local man was bitten on the face by a dog. I’m told that the man was patting the dog when it suddenly turned on him and left him with a number of puncture marks to the skin. The matter was reported to the gardaí so we can’t say too much more about it for now.

I have come across other examples of uncontrolled dogs behaving badly in public too, which leads me to wonder if our local authorities are doing enough to enforce the Control of Dogs Act?

I listened to a woman as she described the moment her dog was mauled to death as she walked along Dollymount Strand in Dublin. She was walking her dog on the beach at about 8am when it was attacked by two bigger dogs. They came out of the sand dunes and attacked the smaller dog and she said they were holding him down by the neck and tearing into him.

She broke a stick off the offending dogs, but they wouldn’t let go. The owner of the bigger dogs in this case was nowhere to be seen. The attackers eventually ran away. She brought her dog to the vet who told her that he had never seen such horrific injuries and unfortunately there was no hope for her pet.

It was a terrifying ordeal for this unfortunate woman but it’s not as uncommon as you might think.

Just a few months ago, a similar thing happened in San Francisco when another family pet was mauled to death in a park by two large dogs that were off their leashes. The owner was taking his dog for a walk when two larger dogs quickly approached and started to attack while their owner never got out of his car.

That pet was also brought to the vet, but nothing could be done to save the dog.

Another dog was mauled to death on New Brighton Beach in the UK beach last year. The owner was walking her miniature dog along the beach when a dog that was off its lead, ran toward her and attacked her dog. She tried to fight it off, but it was too big and strong. The owner eventually dragged it away. Again, same story, she brought her dog to the vet, but the animal was already dead.

In a separate incident, another dog was killed in a park in London, and his owner suffered two fractured fingers when she tried to save him. She was walking her pet in west London when the other dog, which wasn’t on a lead, ran up to them and began to attack the smaller dog. The owner made no attempt to intervene, he just took the dog and ran away and by then her dog was dead.

These stories are very similar and apart from suffering the loss of their pets, the victims have also incurred expenses in having the animals treated by a vet which I assume they had to pay for themselves.

A dog launching an attack on a human or attacking another dog, is at the more serious end of the scale, while dog fouling and nuisance barking are less serious, but they all point to the same thing.

We have an issue with the lack of control of dogs in public. Uncontrolled dogs are roaming our streets and housing estates, causing a public nuisance while their owners refuse to control them.

Dogs are not supposed to be out in public unaccompanied. In plain English, they are not allowed to wander outside their property without being kept under control. By law, they are required to be kept under the effective control of their owner. But this doesn’t happen. This law is being flouted in every town, village and housing estate in Ireland.

Dogs can be found wandering in every public space, free to soil gardens and pathways, barking at will, while their owners give two fingers to the rest of the community. Dog fouling has become a national issue, but it’s not being tackled. Many dog owners leave their pets out of the house in the morning and have no idea what their little darlings are doing for the rest of the day. They couldn’t care less either and they’re getting away with it.

We have The Control of Dogs Act 1986. It’s not a complicated piece of legislation and the responsibilities of the owners are set out quite clearly. It says that the owner or any other person in charge of a dog shall not permit the dog to be in any place other than – (a) the premises of the owner, or (b) the premises of such other person in charge of the dog, or (c) the premises of any other person, with the consent of that person, unless such owner or such other person in charge of the dog accompanies it and keeps it under effectual control. There are penalties for those who refuse to comply with these regulations.

Let’s be honest, while we do have a Control of Dogs Act, we don’t have control of dogs and the evidence can be seen daily. Dog wardens have a role to play here but I don’t see them, and any complaints I have lodged with them have been ignored and they have never returned a single call to me.

I have been banging on about this for some time and I get the same response from the authorities about how difficult it is to enforce this piece of legislation. That’s not good enough. It’s not fair on responsible owners, who thankfully, are in the majority and it’s not fair on the rest of us either.

Local authorities need to step up to the mark here.

More in this section

Sponsored Content