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Plans for council dog parks to be outlined in September

COUNCIL officers will report back to local elected representatives in September with more details regarding proposals for dedicated dog parks in Omagh and Enniskillen.

At the monthly meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC), members alluded to plans for dogs to be excluded from certain areas owned by the local authority, namely play parks, playing pitches, multi-use games areas (MUGAs), artificial pitches, bowling greens and tennis courts.

The local authority is also planning on bringing in new controls requiring dogs to be kept on leads in other areas, namely cemeteries, burial grounds and land surrounding council buildings.

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Meanwhile, the proposed new Dog Control Orders would also allow authorised council officers to require a dog to be put on a lead if it is felt that such a restraint is ‘reasonably necessary’ to prevent a nuisance.

Since being made public, the proposals for the so-called ‘exclusion zones’ have already sparked a fierce debate among animal lovers in Omagh and Fermanagh, including online petitions, with many calling for the creation of dedicated dog parks in the area.

On Thursday night, Sinn Féin’s Anne-Marie Fitzgerald told the meeting that she had been approached by a local pet owner who had put together a six-page document about the benefits of having such a facility in Omagh and where one could be located in the town. Mrs Fitzgerald, who owns three dogs herself, said she would give the ‘Omagh Dog Park’ report to the relevant council officer after the meeting.

“Maybe that can be added to what people are doing behind the scenes. It would be appreciated,” she said.

Her party colleague, Barry McElduff, said it had been “legitimate” for councillors to have raised questions over what was being proposed at a previous meeting of the Environmental Services Committee.

He said, “The council is outlining that a play park should be out of bounds, but when outlining what is out of bounds, we need to explain to the public and provide for the public.”

Mr McElduff said the number of dog owners in Omagh and Enniskillen was “quite amazing”.

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“What an asset it would be for any town that there would be a dedicated dog park, creatively developed and designed in such a way as to optimise the experience for the dog and the dog owner. This is a dog-loving society,” he said.

FODC’s director of environment and place, Kevin O’Gara, said that there would be a report coming in September regarding the issues associated with possible options and locations for a dog park.

“I welcome some of the comments and any information with relation to dog parks. Certainly staff are looking at that and we will be bringing a report to the September meeting for members’ consideration on the issue,” he added.

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