IT is a ‘tail’ of two sides for dog-lovers in Ennis. The Ennis Municipal District executive has voiced support for the idea of a dedicated dog park in the town. However, the local authority has confirmed that it is “not in a position” to introduce the initiative at this time.
A motion calling for the introduction of a designated space for people to bring their four-legged friends was proposed at the monthly meeting of the Ennis Municipal District.
This comes hot on the heels of the recent launch of a local campaign group, ‘The Ennis Puppy and Dog Park Project’, which is urging that the Post Office Field be developed to facilitate a dog park. The group has described the council’s response to a dog park as “positive”, saying they will be continuing their efforts.
At the meeting, Councillor Johnny Flynn proposed that the local authority “to meet the needs of animals and animal lovers” follow the example of Dublin City Council, which provided a dog park in St Anne’s Park.
“This is a designated area in a public park, where dogs may be let off lead at all times. It could be in the form of a small area for puppies and a bigger area for big dogs, with both provided with water tap, bowl and an area with wood like chippings,” he said.
The councillor added that he has been contacted by a number of dog-owners, who had been impressed with the Dublin facility. “A lot of urban dwellers want to be able to exercise their dogs in a responsible way and I believe that this would be very appropriate,” he stated.
He continued by saying it would “avoid the indiscriminate release” of dogs. He pointed out that, at Lees Road, there have been a number of incidences of people being “confronted” by large loose dogs. “Some runners have been attacked and ladies running on their own feel threatened,” he said.
Councillor Mary Howard stated that the dog park would only need a small amount of space, saying she was not in favour of the Post Office Field site for such a development. She also raised concerns about the need for responsible dog ownership and secure fencing around any potential dog park. “I would worry that there would be dogs not properly trained, but responsible dog owners should be allowed to leave their dogs off the leash,” she said.
Brian McCarthy, acting director of services, responded, “In supporting and appreciating the motion being very positive, unfortunately based on current programmes of work and resources available, the council is not in a position to introduce the proposed initiative at this time in Ennis.
“Dog-walking has many positive benefits and, in view of the potential for green infrastructure plans in Ennis and subject to resources, such a proposal could be favorably considered, as funding and opportunities for same become available.”
Commenting to The Clare Champion, Seamus Ryan of the Ennis Puppy and Dog Park Project described the council’s response as “a positive step”.
“As a group, we were fully aware that, in the middle of Clare County Council‘s financial year, they would have already allocated their budget for 2017/18. We are promoting this project now because we want the council to have enough time to factor costs of a park like this into their budgets for the 2018/19 financial year. We understand that it would be no good to start talking about this with just a few weeks before the council decide that final budget for the year.”
Mr Ryan also noted the positive response by acting director of service Brian McCarty to the proposal, saying, “Group members were encouraged by council officials recognising the merits of a project like this, particularly in terms of green infrastructure, animal socialisation, personal, physical and mental health benefits to people and definitely as a place where dogs and dog-owners can enjoy each other’s company.”
Mr Ryan continued, “Based on the response received, the group will be continuing with its efforts, gathering signatures for our change.org petition, and will holding meetings in the new year to build on this momentum to encourage both councillors and officials that a park like this will have real and lasting benefits to the community and has a ready and waiting clientele and that it would be a good investment in our county town.”
The group’s campaign is in response to recent discussions regarding finding a use for the Post Office Field.
“We want to see this underutilised space in the centre of our town kept green and put into proper order and we think that a park, specifically for walking and exercising our pets, will make a great addition to our town,” said Mr Ryan.
“Everyone in County Clare will tell you that the Post Office Field floods when we get heavy rains; water can cover most of not all of the area. Building a structure there would need significant work and money to go into developing flood defences.
“We believe that a dog park is the best option – an open space would need much less in terms of defenses, as water could flow freely. It is an alternative with a low environmental impact. Keep the flood plain aspect of the field and also continue to allow birds and other wildlife to nest in the area, without being disturbed, and fit in with the council’s plan to use the area as an amenity site,” Mr Ryan concluded.
The new group has launched a Facebook page and petition and intends to hold a public meeting on the project in early 2018.
By Jessica Quinn