By Jaclyn Glover, Deputy Manager, Citizens Advice Newtownabbey
Q: I think my neighbour’s dog is left unsupervised for large periods of time. It will bark continuously throughout the night, wakening my young children. During the day the dog is left to roam freely and fouls in the street or in my garden. What can I do?
A: The first step would be to approach your neighbour. Problems with animals can usually be resolved by an informal approach. This is often preferable to using the law. You should contact the owner, make them aware of the problem and ask them to stop the animal causing the problem.
• Contact the council - If talking to your neighbour does not resolve the problem you should contact the district/borough council. If you think the dog is causing a nuisance which is detrimental to the general comfort or health of the public, the environmental health department may be able to take action. It can deal with complaints about noise, smell and fouling in public places.
The Dog Control Order has introduced additional council controls over dogs in public places. The order aims to deal more effectively with dog fouling, nuisance dogs and the protection of children and others using our public spaces and facilities.
The Dog Control Order generally applies to public land that is open to the air and can be made by district councils provided the order is a justified and proportionate response to problems caused by the activities of dogs and those in charge of them.
If you live in an area where this Order applies, a fine of up to £1,000 can be imposed on irresponsible owners. The Dogs on Leads Order also means that dog owners may be required to keep their dogs on leads in certain areas.
• Contact the Dog Warden - If the dog is aggressive or you feel there is a risk of a dog attack you should report this to the council dog warden immediately. Dog Wardens can also offer further advice on areas affected by the Dogs on Leads Order.
• Involve the USPCA - The police usually only deal with cruelty to animals. If the problem may be due to neglect, for example, where a dog is constantly barking, the owner could be reported to the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA) on the animal information line 02830 251000 or via the website - www.uspca.co.uk
• Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice – go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland or call at: Citizens Advice Newtownabbey, Dunanney Centre, Rathmullan Drive, Rathcoole, Newtownabbey, BT37 9DQ. Telephone advice is available 9am – 4pm each day on 028 9085 2271 (Lunch 1pm - 1:30pm), email advice is available at firstname.lastname@example.org