Dog leash by­law is nec­es­sary for ev­ery­one

The Sligo Champion - - OPINION - With Deb­o­rah Cole­man

FEARS that the l at­est by­law to be in­tro­duced in the Fin­gal lo­cal au­thor­ity area will ‘drive dog-walki ng un­der­ground’ were ex­pressed at a l arge protest i n Malahide i n re­cent days.

A new by­law has been passed to com­pel dog own­ers to keep their four-legged friends on leashes within des­ig­nated hours.

I think that the change has opened up a good de­bate and that there has to be some mid­dle ground here.

The no­tion that dogs should be let roam free in pub­lic parks is just not sen­si­ble and when rules like this are made, they have to try and cater for the ma­jor­ity.

De­voted dog own­ers, some­times find it hard to un­der­stand how other peo­ple can be ner­vous of dogs, par­tic­u­larly larger breeds and that even if they ‘never bite’, they can be in­tim­i­dat­ing when they run to­wards you or jump up in ex­cite­ment.

Many dog own­ers are re­spon­si­ble and know how to cor­rectly su­per­vise their pet in pub­lic, but many oth­ers do not, and th­ese are the peo­ple whom the by­law aims to tar­get.

The is­sue of ap­ply­ing the same rules to those with a dis­abil­ity, I think could be re­viewed.

Many have out­lined that hold­ing a dog on a leash, per­haps at the same times as a walk­ing stick, could be prob­lem­atic and one par­ent also high­lighted that their child who has spe­cial needs leans on their dog for sup­port.

I doubt that any war­den with a bit of cop on would fine a per­son in th­ese cir­cum­stances.

There has to be a bit of give an take in cer­tain cases, but for large dogs run­ning around un­su­per­vised, there has to be some sort of rules in place.

The other is­sue that dogs off leash cre­ates is foul­ing. If a num­ber of dogs are run­ning all over the place, who is to say which one fouled where and who is re­spon­si­ble for it?

Own­ers have no way of know­ing, and there­fore there are bound to be in­ci­dents where the re­quired clean up does not take place.

Foul­ing is a prob­lem all over the coun­try both on streets and in parks and de­tec­tion rates are no­to­ri­ously low.

The leash-rule is only in force be­tween 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. so there is scope for those who wish to walk their dogs off leashes to do so if they wish. If a num­ber of dogs are run­ning all over the place, who is to say which one fouled where and who is re­spon­si­ble for it?

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