‘Dog-friendly’ business badge scheme sought for Mid and East Antrim

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has approved a feasibility study for a badge scheme for “dog-friendly” businesses.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 12:52 pm

The opt-in scheme was proposed by Carrickfergus Alliance Councillor Lauren Gray at a special meeting last week.

Cllr Gray suggested that the scheme would make areas and venues across the borough “more accessible” for dog walkers and their owners.

She went on to say there has been emphasis on mental health during the past year noting that owning a dog can have a “positive impact on mental well-being” and “can help build a social life”.

She added that the initiative has been endorsed by Hospitality Ulster in other parts of Northern Ireland through an opt-in badge scheme for businesses and could help to “rejuvenate town centres” post-Covid.

Seconding the motion, party colleague Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna said that dogs have been a “lifeline” for many people during the pandemic for their company and friendship.

Braid DUP Cllr William McCaughey commented that some irresponsible pet owners don’t clean up dog foul.

“I would take this opportunity to appeal to all pet owners to clear up after their pets. Get us dog owners a good name and keep our pavements clean. Our town centre pavements at the minute are relatively free from such mess.”

He cautioned: “I have no doubt we have a few business owners who would jump at this chance to show their dog-friendly credentials but as we exit this pandemic and our town centres begin to trade once again, we must be very careful that in an attempt to make our towns more appealing, we actually don’t make them more unattractive to many.”

He pointed out that there are adults who are “genuinely afraid of dogs”.

He proposed an amendment for the council to carry out a feasibility study into the provision of a dog-friendly scheme, its impact and potential costings and take into account views of the borough’s chambers of commerce, town centre business owners and tourism and hospitality task force.

Coast Road DUP Cllr Angela Smyth stated that the local authority should be mindful of people with phobias.

Larne Lough Alliance Cllr Robert Logan commented: “No doubt there are some responsible dog owners. I think this is a very worthwhile proposition that would make us stand out against other councils.

Cllr Gray added: “Dog mess is a really bad issue in Carrick. It is something we need to keep working on in terms of communication and encouraging people.”

She said that she was happy to accept the amendment.

“Not every business would be forced to accept dogs,” she stressed.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

Click here to read: Private enforcement company to tackle Mid and East Antrim dog fouling ‘upsurge’

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