Lobbyists fight for dog park

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A group of Larne dog owners are campaigning for a dedicated dog exercise area to be created in the borough.

Earlier this year, Larne Borough Council introduced legislation which forbade dog owners from taking their pets onto local beaches without a lead at certain times (between 11am and 6pm from June 1-August 31).

And a number of disgruntled animal lovers now feel the local authority should provide a safe area where dogs can be let off the lead to run around freely.

Calling themselves the Off Lead group, the concerned dog owners have launched a survey in a bid to raise awareness and gain support for their campaign.

One of the founders of the group, Mary McCloskey told the Larne Times: “We feel that the council needs to provide a safe area so we can let our dogs exercise adequately, as this can not always be achieved on a lead. A well-exercised dog is a well-behaved and content dog.

“Our Off Lead Facebook page has now got over 260 members, with the number growing daily as the word is spreading about our campaign.

“The survey results show that 96 per cent of the people who took part agree that an enclosed exercise area is necessary.

“Public opinion is very positive towards our campaign and we are delighted with their response and support.

“We would like to see Larne Council set the example for other towns and show support for pet owners.

“Dog parks are becoming more popular all over the world.

“They range in size and design, but all share the same purpose, which is to provide a safe area where dogs can run freely off lead and socialise with other dogs.

Larne Lough Councillor Mark McKinty, who is himself a dog owner, has given his backing to the campaign and is encouraging members of the public to take part in the online survey.

He added: “I recognise the importance of off-lead exercise for any dog, both for physical and obedience training. This is especially true for the larger and more work-based breeds, of which there is a considerable number within our borough.

“The Off Lead group have shown leadership not only on this issue, but in ensuring that dog owners within Larne are well-informed, and can socialise their pets together in a safe way.”

To fill in the survey, visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/3H537CC