LOCAL councillors have approved plans to build the first-ever ‘free play’ dog park in Omagh, while at the same time agreeing to introduce a raft of tighter dog control measures across the district from next April.
At the December meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s environmental services committee, director of environment and place, Kevin O’Gara, told the chamber that a public consultation process had been carried out in relation to both the proposals for the new dog park and the Dog Control Orders.
Mr O’Gara said there was generally “very strong, positive support” for the introduction of a ‘free play’ dog park at the council’s preferred location of Arleston/ McCauley Park, just off Old Mountfield Road, opposite Gibson Primary School.
According to a report prepared for the committee, this will be an open space where owners can exercise their dogs “without undue restrictions”. A total of 58 per-cent of respondents supported the council’s Omagh dog park plan, with only 27 per-cent opposed to it.
The senior official also said there had been support from the public for the overall implementation of the proposed Dog Control Orders, which the council hope will encourage more responsible pet ownership.
In the report, it is stated that there was “strong endorsement” (over 51 per-cent favoured) for the council’s proposal to introduce new controls giving authorised officers the power to require a dog to be on a lead, if they believe it is necessary.
The document also stated that more than 54 per-cent favoured or had no view in relation to the council’s plans to introduce ‘dog exclusion zones’ in certain council-owned areas including play parks, multi-use game areas (MUGAs) and playing fields. Thirty per-cent of respondents were “strongly opposed”.
However, council officers conceded in the report that there had been a “mixed response” to proposals to introduce new controls requiring dogs to be kept on leads in certain areas, namely cemeteries, burial grounds and community centre grounds. While 37 per-cent were in favour, 42 per-cent were strongly opposed.
Summing up, Mr O’Gara said that he was seeking the approval of the councillors to implement the legislation from April 6, 2020.
“In the meantime, we would proceed to develop a ‘free play’ dog park in Arleston/McCauley. That’s the recommendation,” he added.
After a short discussion, the committee members agreed to back the report’s recommendations.