‘Out of control’ dogs causing Ward Park misery

‘Out of control dogs’ are causing ‘distress’ for other dogs, their owners, small children and elderly residents at Bangor’s Ward Park, it has been claimed.

Local resident Louanne Martin, owner of Maggie the rescue greyhound, says her four legged friend has been frequently ‘terrified’ during their visits to the historic town centre park.

After raising her concerns with Bangor Central councillor Karen Douglas, the duo have called for new council signs at the park’s entrances to encourage responsible dog ownership. Louanne explained her dog Maggie began her new life in Bangor back in 2018 but was no longer able to enjoy walks in Ward Park, a place she used to love to visit. She said: “Maggie is originally from Tipperary, she is a greyhound who proved not to be ‘eager’ enough to race and she was surrendered to a pound.

Most of her history is unknown but she has many scars so it seems likely that she didn’t have the gentlest start to life.” She said: “One of Maggie’s favourite walks is around the beautiful Ward Park. The 37 acre park provides space for all the citizens of Bangor and is a very special space that includes everyone – except Maggie. “Over the last few years it has become increasingly difficult for Maggie to enjoy her walks there. It has become so challenging that she rarely walks in the park now at all. “The difficulty that Maggie experiences is out of control dogs running off lead in areas designated for on lead dog walks.

As a greyhound, Maggie is not allowed by law to go off lead in an area that is not secure.” Louanne said: “Maggie has become very distressed by dogs running up to her. She feels threatened as she is restrained. “I have asked people to place their dogs on a lead but have been told a range of things from, ‘I don’t follow that rule’ to ‘your dog just has to get used to it’. “It’s one sad thing to terrify a dog, but there are also other park users including small children, our older citizens, people less steady on their feet, those who simply don’t like dogs who are frightened by dogs running around a park out of control.” She said: “I have been in touch with councillor Karen Douglas about the issues Maggie’s faces alongside the other park visitors. She has very kindly raised this issue at council.

Ms Douglas said Ards and North Down Borough has some of the most beautiful parks and beaches across Northern Ireland. “Our shared spaces should be places where we can feel comfortable and safe to enjoy all the outdoors have to offer: fresh air, exercise, appreciation of the stunning views, taking time out to reflect, or social connection,” she said. “Given they are shared spaces, it is incumbent upon us all to respect the areas and other visitors. It is not the first time I have heard of such a plight as experienced by Maggie or indeed young children.

“Most people enjoying Ward Park are considerate of others and act accordingly for everyone’s safety and pleasure.” She went on to say: “At the most recent Environment Committee I raised the issue and received a commitment that improved signage would be placed in Ward Park to make clear what the requirements are for dog walkers. The Council’s Neighbourhood Environment Officers will also continue to visit the park to monitor the situation, offer advice and where appropriate issue fixed penalty notices. Let’s continue to enjoy our shared spaces safely and respect each other.”