THE NEWTOWNABBEY dog-walking community is up in arms over what they feel is “heavy handed” and “unfair” control orders being considered by the council.
The new regulations, due to come into effect next month, will make it an offence to take a dog into children’s play areas or on to playing fields.
Dog owners could also face a fixed penalty fine for letting their pet off the lead in a number of public places, including on footpaths, near roadways and in certain areas of council parks. Under the new legislation, the fine for owners failing to clean up after their pets will increase to £80.
The Times has been inundated about the proposals from irate dog owners who feel the measures are excessive and unfair.
Robert McCrum, who regularly walks his border collie Tara in Hazelbank Park, has amassed over 120 signatures from people who are concerned about the new regulations.
He appealed to people to get involved with the council’s consultation process before its August 31 closing date.
He said: “Everyone I have talked to thinks these orders are too much. There are reasonable points in them, but we feEl the council has gone too far.
“There is problems with dog fouling in the area, but it is a minority of people and the responsible dog owners are being punished for them.”
The 65-year-old added: “Dogs need to be let off their leads in order to get a good, proper exercise.
“There are elderly people who come down to the park and throw the ball from the car because they can not walk to far themselves and they will not be able to do that if these new proposals are introduced.
“Also, to have to keep your dog on a lead on the footpaths could be dangerous, especially with all the cyclists whizzing past you.
“All I would ask is that people read the proposals and have their say on them so that the council can gauge for itself the public’s feelings.”
Newtownabbey Borough Council has refuted suggestions that the orders are unfair on dog owners and said the proposals were designed to “strike a balance for all users of the parks [to provide] a safe environment.”
For full details of the proposals and to take part in the consultation exercise go to www.newtownabbey.gov.uk.