CLARE Dog Warden Frankie Coote said that while in Shannon, he frequently needs the gardaí to come with him when he needs to call to a house.
Mr Coote addressed Tuesday night’s meeting of the Town Council and said things seem to escalate in Shannon in a way that’s not very common in other parts of the county.
“This is no disrespect to Shannon but in a lot of cases in Shannon that I deal with, I have to bring the guards with me. I don’t have that problem in other areas,” he commented.
Mr Coote said that on occasion in Shannon when he calls to a house, neighbours come out of their homes to confront him and said it “becomes a bigger issue”.
He said previously, the councillors had expressed concern about dangerous dogs in the county but he said he feels he is “well on top of that” now. The warden also said he had more complaints from Shannon than any other area of Clare.
Referring to his notes, he referred to a recent complaint that a nine-year-old had been attacked by a dog outside a school while the dog’s owner was allegedly drunk. Mr Coote said that he had issued a fine following this, while he said he also had a recent complaint of a female garda being bitten by a dog.
Mr Coote said he has been concentrating on a few blackspot areas in the town and that progress had been made.
Councillor Gerry Flynn said he welcomed the address by Mr Coote but was disappointed by what he had heard. “It grieves me to hear that you have to get garda protection at times.”
He said that people can be very upset by barking dogs. “For people who are ill or elderly who get it on a constant basis, it’s like Chinese torture.”
Councillor Flynn said that fouling dogs are another significant issue. “Shannon is one of the busiest places for walkers and there is dog pooh all over paths, green areas and schools. There is an issue with appearance and health issues.”
Councillor Flynn said people have leads for their dogs that are so long they are “more suitable for fishing back in West Clare”. Mr Coote said he had seen dogs killed on those.
While Mr Coote said he cannot take action with regard to some dog-related issues, he said that if someone is taking a civil action, he could act as a witness and give support.
Councillor Greg Duff said it was disgraceful that Mr Coote is requiring the protection of gardaí. “It’s terrible that a person going about their work would be put in that situation,” he commented.
His Labour party colleague Greg Duff said it is “frightening” how poorly some dogs are looked after.
Fine Gael Councillor Sean McLoughlin said it was disappointing to hear the Mr Coote requires protection from the gardaí, while he added that some people do not want to accept the truth about their pets.
Also at the meeting, Councillor Patricia McCarthy put forward a motion asking for a public awareness campaign to be put in place by the county council, highlighting the responsibilities of dog owners, particularly that of keeping dogs under control and cleaning up after them.
In a written response from James Barry of the County Council, it was stated that funds aren’t available. “In 2009, the council produced an A4 flyer setting out dog owner responsibilities.
To repeat this campaign would now cost between €1,000 and €1,200, for which funding has not been provided in the current budget.”
At the meeting, Councillor McCarthy said she believed the project could be completed for a much smaller cost and said she would provide more information on cheaper methods of delivery.