What a sight to greet cruising visitors to Cork... mounds of dog poo

Ignorance, stupidity, lack of respect - take your pick - but dog poo is an embarrassing eye soar, says Trevor Laffan
What a sight to greet cruising visitors to Cork... mounds of dog poo

The Norwegian Star docks in Cobh last week. Trevor Laffan says that, despite the town’s best efforts, dog muck is an issue there

THINGS pop into my head from time to time that leave me bewildered.

Like, how does a huge cruise liner with 1,000 passengers on board stay afloat by the quayside in Cobh? But when my small phone falls out of my pocket into the toilet, it immediately sinks to the bottom before I have a chance to retrieve it?

Or how is it that when the salesman introduces you to your new car, he’ll convince you you’re getting the best buy on the market and it’s guaranteed to hold its value? But when you go to trade in the same car, it’s a different story? He’ll wrinkle his nose at the prospect of having such an eyesore clogging up his forecourt because he says he’ll never sell it. It’s the wrong model.

These things can be explained, but there is another question that the best minds still can’t answer; why it is that some dog owners still think it’s OK to let their dogs foul public spaces?

It can’t be lack of awareness, because it is a popular topic of conversation and regularly highlighted in the media. There are notices everywhere too about dog fouling so they can’t say they don’t know it’s a problem. Therefore, it must be something else.

Ignorance, stupidity, lack of respect, take your pick - but meanwhile, it continues to be an embarrassing eyesore.

The cruise liners are berthing in Cobh again after an enforced absence and they’re a welcome sight. It’s great to see the passengers strolling around and enjoying the music on the streets, or sitting outside in the fresh air enjoying a pint or some food.

Not only do they give a well-deserved boost to the local economy, they also create a buzz about the place.

In fairness to the local businesses, they have played their part too. The shops, pubs and restaurants look well, and the place is clean thanks in no small part to the Tidy Towns gang. They do trojan work, along with the council workers, and it shows. Unfortunately, a lot of that work is being undone by a few irresponsible dog owners who have no regard for all that effort.

The usual suspects continue to allow their dogs to dirty the streets, footpaths and green areas, while giving two fingers to the rest of us. I’ve highlighted this issue many times, but instead of getting better, it’s getting worse.

I walked into Cobh recently while a liner was tied up at the quayside and the town was busy. The footpath by the Promenade, which is the main thoroughfare for pedestrians coming from the liner into the town, was littered with dog poo. That was the sight that welcomed the visitors.

There was a pile of it in one area that looked as if it had been deposited by a large dog. It was right in the middle of the footpath and was so big and obvious, it couldn’t possibly have been missed by the person accompanying the dog.

I thought it was disgusting, but some dog owners see nothing wrong with it.

The same people think it’s OK to allow their dogs out in the morning to relieve themselves wherever they like. On the footpaths, in someone else’s garden or on the green areas. They don’t care where they do it as long as it’s not outside their own front door.

Then they let them wander around for the rest of the day, unsupervised, to do what they like.

It’s happening everywhere and that behaviour will continue until the owners are forced to take responsibility - but that won’t happen until such time as we have enforcement.

Dogs are not allowed by law to be out in public unless they are on a leash or under the immediate control of a responsible person, but that law is blatantly disregarded and goes unpunished.

Some public parks have allocated certain times when dogs can be left off their leash, but not everybody sticks to those times, and nothing is done about that either.

Mary McCarthy, writing in the Independent, said Palmerstown Park in Dublin can feel like a doggie park in reverse, with the kids penned up in the playground while the hounds and mutts get the run of the place.

That’s not right either, but how do we fix it?

It might be worthwhile keeping an eye on our Kerry neighbours to see how they get on. It was announced last year that the movement of dogs and horses will have to be restricted on beaches down there if they are to meet the Blue Flag standard.

The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) is responsible for handing out Blue Flag certification for beaches. It is the world’s largest environmental education organisation and prioritises action to address the urgent threats of climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental pollution. According to their website, the iconic Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised voluntary awards for beaches and in order to qualify for one, a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria must be met and maintained.

To help meet these standards, Kerry County Councillors voted to adopt by-laws to restrict dogs and horses from accessing parts of Kerry’s Blue Flag beaches at specific time periods during the summer. Under these by-laws, animals can’t access the Blue Flag areas of these beaches between 11am and 7pm from June 1 until September 15.

It will be very interesting to see how this is enforced though.

Dog fouling has been ignored for years by local authorities across the country. They claim they don’t have the resources or the ability to identify offenders, so how then will they cope with wayward dogs and horses galloping by the seaside?

We’ll have to wait and see.

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