Councillor Robbie Butler has said it is imperative dog owners throughout Lagan Valley exercise firm control over their pets to ensure the animals don’t become involved in sheep worrying.
Mr Butler issued his call as the Council unveiled plans to carry out a blitz on dog fouling across the City Council locality. “Some people are under the false impression that simply having their dogs walk beside them off a lead is controlling them. This is not the case. The dogs must be on a lead at all times.
“I have personally come across an instance of a family with a disabled child living under a virtual curfew because they had to bring the child in from their own front garden because people were walking a bad-tempered pet dog off the lead nearby.
“The disabled child is petrified of dogs - even those walked on the lead.
“It was a very frightening experience for the child to be confronted in his own garden by a dog running about off the lead.
“People also need to make very sure that when they are walking in the countryside, they guard their dogs so as these family pets do not wander away and attack farm stock or perhaps are mistaken as a threat to farm livestock, especially sheep and lambs which are exceptionally vulnerable at this time of year.
“Placid pets can easily become killer hounds.”
and over the years farmers have had to face the terrible sight of their flocks being mauled and devastated by these so-called family pets.
“People must also ensure they know where their dogs are at all times. It is very dangerous to simply open the door, usher out the family pet and hope the dog will return in a matter of hours.
“This presents a real danger to the farming community in Ulster, especially if the dogs get together in packs. They then have the potential to cause considerable pain to the farm animals as well as inflict immense financial damage on the farmer.
“Worse still, there is the real danger that dogs off the lead or unsupervised could attack young children or adults and cause severe injury.
“No dog should be allowed to go free at night, and should be kept indoors or on a chain, especially at night.
“Lagan Valley’s important agricultural community does not need to cope with the added strain of combating the threat from sheep worrying.
“In this respect, all dog owners throughout the constituency have a responsibility to ensure their pets do not become a stumbling block to our farming families, many of whom are trying to support their livelihoods.
“I fully support the rights of farmers to take whatever legal steps they deem necessary to protect their flocks and other animals from stray or unaccompanied dogs roaming across their lands.
“There is the real danger that if dog owners do not act with responsibility, the City Council and Stormont may have to introduce hard-hitting legislation which will mean much stiffer penalties against those dog owners whose pets are caught attacking people or livestock,” urged Cllr Butler.