Over 16,000 patrols since the start of the Dog Fouling Initiative in Derry and Strabane
Members of the Derry & Strabane Health and Community Committee have received a report updating them on the Dog Control Service.
The initiative saw the council employ additional staff to patrol problem areas, with the number of dog fouling cases recorded during the second phase of the initiative showing a downward trend.
Of the 26 dog fouling offenses observed, most were due to dog walkers not wearing dog fouling bags. There have been no instances of dog walkers refusing to clean up after their dog when offered a dog bag. Dog foul bags were given to 5,065 dog walkers to help reinforce the message that dog owners should always carry bags in case their dog makes a foul.
The report noted: “Casual staff in the Recreation Services Section have been undertaking patrols since February, however, hours of operation have been reduced with more targeted patrols carried out from May to reduce costs.
“The personnel resource costs associated with the canine fouling initiative have ranged between £ 20,000 and £ 25,000 per month.
“The pilot is scheduled to end at the end of June to allow personnel to resume their long-distance duties.”
DUP alderman Maurice Devenney was disappointed that there had only been four penalties for misconduct.
“If we’re being honest, if that’s all we can get, then we’re betraying our citizens who are constantly calling us and contacting us about a canine smear. I don’t know where we can go with this.
Former SDLP Mayor Councilor Brian Tierney, who introduced the initiative championed the work being done by the Guardians team.
“During my tenure as mayor, I was in every DEA in this municipal district with the dog guards and I can tell you that it’s a tough job these guys do.
“Although this is a big problem, we have to remember that there is a small team of dog sitters and they cannot be everywhere.
“It’s really about being in the right place at the right time to make sure those penalty notices are issued. Otherwise we need members of the public to come forward and then stop and go all the way until the notices are issued. There may only be four, but it’s still a tough job for the dog sitters.
Seamus Donaghy, Head of Community Health and Welfare, explained, “We continue to promote responsible dog ownership and we have a zero tolerance enforcement policy, but we need to witness the infraction to issue a fixed penalty notice and / or initiate proceedings.
“There are two ways to do this – either the dog sitters witness the infraction or the members of the public who witness the infraction fill out a witness statement and we can take action based on that.
“We have a small team of dog guards, we predicted that there would be a lot more fixed penalties imposed on the basis of additional patrols and there have been 16,000 patrols in the last two months, but that just proves that you must witness the infraction and these staff members did not witness many infractions, so it will be very difficult regardless of the number of employees in the field.
Mr Donaghy also informed MEPs that the initiative will be scaled down at the end of this month.
“We felt that the survey provided us with enough data and information to help improve the service,” he said. “We are also mindful of the recovery of other municipal services and the need to facilitate the return of staff to their previous roles, but we can obviously keep this under review.”
From April 2020 to March 2021, eight fixed penalties were pronounced for lack of a license and 15 for misplacement.
The Dog Control Service processed 1,347 stray dog complaints, issued 5,438 warning letters, issued 8,203 licenses and dealt with 32 dog attacks.
Since the introduction of the new dog control orders from May 5, 2021, the council’s dog control staff have proactively approached 1,492 dog walkers and informed them of the new controls in place throughout the area of the council. advice, but there have been 20 instances where dog walkers have taken their dogs to areas that dogs are excluded from soccer fields and playgrounds.
The Council continues to work interdepartmentally to address issues of irresponsible dog ownership.