A notice of motion proposed by Alderman Joan Baird, seconded by Councillor Padraig McShane to request for a Dog Control Order on lands between Ballintoy Harbour and Whitepark Bay is being recommended by officers that members of the Environmental Services Committee this week make a recommendation to Council that 'they do not progress the procedure to introduce a Dog Control Order'.
Councillors will hear how Environmental Services received a request from a landowner requesting Council impose a Dog Control Order on his lands where an asserted Right of Way footpath is located. The path runs from Ballintoy Harbour to Whitepark Bay. The lands in question are private lands where livestock are kept however the public use the pathway for recreation and for walking dogs.
The landowner claimed that members of the public do not exercise proper control of their dogs by keeping them on a leash and as such he has suffered a loss due to dogs worrying the livestock.
A report reads "A monitoring exercise was carried out by officers from the Enforcement Team and the Senior Environmental Health Officer for Enforcement in order to ascertain the extent of ongoing offences relating to persons taking dogs onto these lands and not keeping them under control by means of a leash while livestock is present.
Monitoring was carried out in the mornings and afternoons during the week and at weekends from 31st January to 22nd February 2022. In total 37 visits/hours of monitoring was carried out at the lands in question. In order for an offence to be committed under Regulation 25 of the Dogs (NI) Order 1983 livestock must be present on the land in question and dogs must be off leash and not under control."
In summary the findings were:
- Of the 37 visits livestock was present 5 times
- Of the 37 visits dogs were observed not under control 6 times
- Of the 37 visits no offences were detected whereby livestock was present and dogs were off leash
- There already exists legislation whereby dogs must be under control by means of a leash on lands where livestock is present.
- The relevant guidance requires that the introduction of any Dog Control Order must be justified.
- Councils must take into account the interests of dog owners to be able to exercise their dogs without undue restrictions.
- Any proposed Dog Control Order must have a public consultation and the responses from this consultation such as objections to the Dog Control Order must be considered.
- The introduction of any Dog Control Order is subject to legal challenge and may fail if Council cannot demonstrate that such an Order is required and justified. - The Environmental Health Department have no recorded complaints of any incidents of dogs worrying livestock on these lands.
- During the monitoring exercise no relevant offences were detected.
- The witness statement by the complainant does not provide any supporting evidence in relation to the complaint.