A woman claiming to be a council employee has told a dog owner she could be fined for littering for brushing her dog in Larne town park.
Larne Times employee Lyn Kernohan was grooming her rescue dog Maya on March 3 when the incident occurred.
She says that the woman warned her that leaving her pet’s fur in the park could result in a fine from the council.
“I was brushing Maya when a woman who had walked past earlier doubled back and told me I was littering,” Lyn told the Times.
“I told her I didn’t think I was, as last year I had been brushing Maya when a man from the RSPB told me not to pick up the dog’s hair as birds use it to build their nests. Since then I haven’t picked up Maya’s fur.
“But the woman told me she was from the council and she would get the dog warden to ring me. Yet she refused to give her name, which I find strange if she was a council employee working in an official capacity.”
Lyn says that several other dog walkers regularly brush their pets in the Town Park, and no-one has ever objected before.
“Dog fur is biodegradeable, so even if the birds don’t use it all it isn’t a hazard like a crisp bag or a bottle,” she continued.
“It won’t harm the natural environment.”
Lyn adopted five-year-old Alaskan Malamute Maya from the Dog’s Trust four years ago, after Maya suffered horrific abuse.
“Maya was so badly beaten that she suffers from hip dysplasia,” Lyn explained.
“She is very timid and when the woman confronted us Maya was cowering, she is so afraid of strangers.”
A spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Council stopped short of saying dog fur would not be classed as litter. Referring to the Litter (Northern Ireland) Order 1994, he said: “Council officials will consider how best to interpret the legislation in regard to litter created by dog grooming in our public parks. There was no dog warden involved in this incident.”
An RSPB spokeswoman said the organisation would find it “disappointing” if the council deemed dog hair to be litter and prevented a member of the public from doing her bit to help nature.
“We would still encourage people to put out supplementary materials in their own gardens,” she said