Calls made to resolve Straid kennels decision

South Antrim DUP representatives Paul Girvan MP, Pam Cameron MLA and Trevor Clarke MLA pictured with Lydia McKay (Walkapaws).
South Antrim DUP representatives Paul Girvan MP, Pam Cameron MLA and Trevor Clarke MLA pictured with Lydia McKay (Walkapaws).

Elected representatives are lobbying the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in a bid to keep open a boarding kennel facility in the Ballyclare area.

Walkapaws, situated in Straid, outside Ballyclare, announced on social media on Thursday it has to close — or face prosecution by DAERA.

In a statment on its Facebook page, Walkapaws said: “We have had a visit by DAERA and they have advised that after many years of licensing Walkapaws, they have decided that they do not like some of the existing wooden structures and some of the sizing of sleeping areas, according to their ‘new owners’ guide.

“They also feel that it causes ‘mental stress in dogs to play with one another which affects their healthy condition’, and they have stated that ‘only dogs from the same owner are permitted to be mixed’.

“They have sent a letter stating we had to close down with immediate effect, not taking into consideration the dogs already boarding or Christmas and future bookings. They have asked me to cease trading and have threatened me with prosecution if I don’t.”

South Antrim MP Paul Girvan visited the facility this morning (Monday) with party colleagues, Pam Cameron MLA and Trevor Clarke MLA.

Afterwards the DUP representative said: “This business has been put under immense pressure after DAERA refused to issue them with a boarding license.

“I have written to the Permanent Secretary at DAERA seeking an urgent meeting with senior officials to find a resolution to this matter.”

Ballyclare UUP Alderman Danny Kinahan has also been supporting the business.

Speaking to the Times, Mr Kinahan said: “I have written to the contact in DAERA and will take the tier higher if I don’t hear anything satisfactory. I am concerned that the Department will just dig in.

“We need to push them to step back and reconsider their position and realise their actions have been appallingly draconian and out of order with how such matters should be handled.”

DAERA said on Friday that Walkapaws would be granted with a new licence if it “applies for a new license and complies with the existing legislation”.

In a statement, a Departmental spokesperson said: “An inspection of this particular facility by DAERA in 2019, identified a number of significant issues around health and safety, boarding practices and legislation breaches. “Following this inspection, the Department wrote to the owner in November 2019 to outline the various concerns and to formally advise them that, until those concerns were addressed and all the necessary legislation is met, a licence cannot be issued.”