Ballyholme dog walkers to be
told ‘keep pets on a lead’

By Violet Brown

A NEW campaign is being launched to encourage dog owners to keep their pets on a lead while walking at Ballyholme promenade.
The promenade is one of 10 areas in the borough subject to a dog control order and Ards and North Down Council wants to trial an exercise to provide additional signs and surface marking on the designated route between Banks Lane and the yacht club.
At a meeting of the council’s Environment Committee last week, director David Lindsay said the issue was about dog owners being responsible for the dogs in their care and ensuring it did not become a problem for themselves or other people.
He said the legislation enforcing dogs to be kept on a lead primarily ensured that people and dogs lived happily and safely together, he added.
“When people are out with their dog whilst the owner of the dog themselves might be very happy and very comfortable about how the dog is going to behave, unfortunately there are loads of other people who might encounter a dog that’s maybe off a lead that might not be so happy,” he said.
“This is already designated as a ‘dogs under control area’ and this signage trial is about encouraging better compliance with that restriction”.
There was, he said, a ‘genuine and real issue’ of dogs being out of control when they were off a lead. “It is a very popular and heavily trafficked location where if a problematic dog off a lead is going to cause a problem, it will cause a problem for more people at this location probably than most other locations in the borough”, Mr Lindsay added.
Councillor Nigel Edmund described it as ‘an excellent idea’, while councillor Janice MacArthur felt ‘there are no bad dogs – just poor and irresponsible owners’.
She said she had been contacted by a wheelchair bound woman who exercised her dog at Ballymenoch Park in Holywood. “She was trying to control her dog on a lead whilst at the same time her dog was being aggravated by dogs off the lead,” Mrs MacArthur said. “She felt very vulnerable”.
Former dog handler, councillor Trevor Cummings welcomed the proposal saying no dog off the lead in such a confined area is totally under control.
The problem with dogs that were out of control was not necessarily an aggression issue, Mr Cummings added. “A dog can get itself and its owner into unforeseen problems in quite an innocent way too,” he said.
Mr Cummings added that monitoring would be ‘extremely important’ as the council moved forward with the scheme with one of the data recorded being the type of leads being used.
“Nowadays you see people using extendable leads which are primarily for training purposes only on a leisure basis,” he said. “It would be helpful for the public to be advised and guided on this”.
However, councillor Barry McKee asked why the council wanted to control dogs and make sure they were on leads in this area.
“How are we going to bring it about and how are the people who walk their dogs at Ballyholme going to react?” he asked. “I walk that area quite a bit and I can see dogs under control and I don’t see the reason for them all to be on leads”.
He said if there were currently no signs in the area and nobody was enforcing the dog control order, he felt the public didn’t know about it.
“This might come as a shock to a lot of people who are used to walking on that stretch without being forced to put their dog on a lead,” he said. “Maybe tailoring towards dogs needing attention would be the best approach”.