Roaming Pit Bulls Terrifying People in Thurles

Thurles Town Council is to look at legislation in relation to hiring private contractors to deal with dangerous dogs in the town in a bid to eradicate what is a growing problem.

Thurles Town Council is to look at legislation in relation to hiring private contractors to deal with dangerous dogs in the town in a bid to eradicate what is a growing problem.

By Noel Dundon

Thurles Town Council is to look at legislation in relation to hiring private contractors to deal with dangerous dogs in the town in a bid to eradicate what is a growing problem.

Unmuzzled, off-the-leash pit bull terriers and other dangerous dogs are roaming freely in some housing estates and on streets causing huge distress to residents and pedestrians who feel very intimidated by the presence of these lethal animals. And, the council has been very pro-active in trying to deal with the problems, but are finding it difficult to get a handle on it despite having already “lifted” a number of animals and demanded dog licences for others.

A Notice of Motion in the names of Councillor Jim Ryan and David Doran called on the council, together with North Tipperary County Council to come up with an appropriate action plan to deal with the increasing problem of dangerous, unsupervised and roaming dogs in the town.

Cllr Ryan said that people are “terrified” of the animals and are crossing the road when they see them coming. The Gardai have been notified on a number of occasions but this is not a matter for them - it is a matter for the council and the dog warden.

Cllr Ryan said that there have been two local incidents recently where dogs attacked children and he has witnessed children as young as 8 years of age being dragged long by unmuzzled pit bulls on a lead.

“There is a genuine expression of fear out there. If those dogs get loose or attack, a child or adult could be very seriously injured,” Cllr Ryan said.

Councillor David Doran added that this is an accident waiting to happen and he appealed to the executive not to put it on the back burner.

Cllr Noel O’Dwyer said that there is legislation in place, but it is never implemented. These dogs are supposed to be muzzled, on a leash and handled by people of responsible age. They are being used as a form of intimidation and as a status symbol, he said, and he added that many of the owners are also engaging in sulky racing in green areas and on Mill Road.

“It’s a disgrace what’s going on and nobody wants to know about it,” Cllr O’Dwyer said.

Councillor Evelyn Nevin described the problem as being a very complex one. With only one dog warden covering all of North Tipperary, it is not simple to solve. However, Cllr Michael Grogan suggested getting an outside contractor for six months to deal with the problem. If needs be the funding should come from councillors own projects, or from conference expenses. “Either we are serious about solving this or we are not,” he said.

Cllr John Kenehan wondered is the recruitment moratorium in the public sector could be lifted as a special case to help solve the problem.

Cllr John Kennedy said that while this is a big problem in Thurles, it is only a very small minority are causing it. He asked the council executive to come back to the July meeting with a proposal as to how to proceed.

Thurles Town Manager Mr Matt Shortt replied that he would not like the wrong message to go out in relation to Thurles being a hotbed for roaming dogs. He has, he said, already taken the matter up with the environment section of North Tipperary County Council and a number of dogs have been lifted off the streets. He pledged to have door to door checks for dog licences but added that dealing with the problem is far more than just throwing resources at it - it requires solid evidence before anything can be achieved.

Mr Shortt promised to look into the legislation to see if it is possible for the council to hire a private contractor to help solve the problems reported.