Cookstown residents have been left outraged after irresponsible dog walkers have failed to clean up after their pets in and around the grounds of the town’s cemeteries.
One resident reported she witnessed one dog owner allowing their animal, who was not on a leash, to foul on the footpath in the cemetery, before putting the lead on the dog, yet walking away leaving the mess on the pathway.
Another cemetery visitor spoke of their horror after they noticed dog mess on one of the graves in the cemetery.
Dog fouling is the latest in a number of problems associated with the cemeteries in the town. Just a few weeks ago vandals damaged a number of graves and headstones in Old Cemetery on Drum Road.
UUP Councillor for the town Trevor Wilson said the dog fouling has been an ongoing issue in the area.
He said: “A number of residents have contacted me with reference to the issue of dog fouling within the grounds of the cemetery. I contacted Environmental Health and going forward the council are planning some further schemes to inform people that it is not acceptable to allow dogs to foul and not pick it up after them.
“I personally find it shocking and disgusting that this is happening in our cemeteries. It is hard enough for people to visit their relatives and loved ones in the cemetery without having to pick up dog foul from their graves. I would appeal to people that if they are walking their dogs to please pick up after them.”
It seems the dog fouling problem is not just within the Cookstown area, residents in Coagh have also highlighted the issue.
UUP Councillor for Mid-Ulster Mark Glasgow told the MAIL: “It is extremely important that all dog owners dispose of dog foul in a safe and responsible manner.
“Sadly not all people do so and over the past week I have received numerous reports that dog foul has been left along Coagh Main Street and the surrounding footpaths.
“The message that we have all come to know is ‘Bag It and Bin It‘ and all dog owners can safely dispose of any dog foul material in the Council litter bins.
“Coagh is such a lovely village so I would like to remind dog owners to keep using the motto ‘Bag It and Bin It’ and let’s keep our footpaths safe and clean for everyone to use.
“Fiona Whyte who owns a Dog Training business in Coagh has explained to me the dangers of dog foul. The main danger to human health in dog faeces is the presence of the eggs of Toxocara Canis. If ingested the eggs hatch inside the body, as the larvae spreads severe illness occurs. If the larva invades one of the body’s delicate structures, such as the eye, this can lead to visual impairment or total blindness.”
A spokesperson for Cookstown District Council told the MAIL: “I can confirm that the Council has received an increased number of complaints in recent months regarding dogs straying and fouling at the Council Cemetery, Forthill, Westland Road, South, Cookstown, together with other Council facilities, including play parks and public walkways.
“As a result of these incidents the signage has been refreshed at all points of access, emphasising that all dogs on the property must be kept on leads at all times and highlighting that any straying or fouling offences will be dealt with by issue of Fixed Penalty Notice (fine), which is to the value of £50 - £80 depending on when paid.
“We would strongly encourage all dog owners to ensure that their dogs are under control at all times, and any dog littering is immediately bagged and disposed of in Council litter bins or similar facilities.
“The Council’s Enforcement Team has put in place a ‘robust monitoring programme’, which will include the use of CCTV technology where necessary and any offenders identified will be dealt with accordingly.”