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A dog is for life

16 December 2011

Christmas and New Year is a time of joy and cheer but can introduce some hazards for man’s best friend. Children are often given the present of a pup for Christmas. Owning a dog brings a great deal of enjoyment but also carries with it a series of responsibilities. Moyle District Council’s Environmental Health Department is taking this opportunity to highlight the importance of responsible dog ownership to promote harmony between dog owners and their local communities. This will help prevent anti dog attitudes from developing.

Moyle District Council’s Dog Warden Service amongst other things deals with dog licensing and identification, fouling and straying. Here are some handy tips to keep you and your dog happy, healthy, safe and legal over the festive season.

Licensing

You must ensure your dog has a valid licence. Licence fees are as follows:

Free If you are over 65 and this is the first or only dog youkeep.

£5.00 Iam over 65 and have already claimed a free licence for one dog.

£5.00 If you are in receipt of Income Support or Housing Benefit at the time of the application for the licence.

£5.00 The dog is neutered.

£12.50 If none of the above conditions apply.

Puppies must be licensed once they leave their mothers. Keeping a dog without a valid licence could attract a £75.00 fixed penalty. Your dog must wear its licence tag (issued with your licence) attached to its collar. Failure to do so may result in a £75.00 fixed penalty being issued.

Identification

Dogs in public places should wear an identification tag on their collar giving the name and address of the owner. Your dog is therefore more likely to be returned to you if it is lost or caught straying.

The most effective and secure way of permanently identifying your dog is to have it micro-chipped. This increases your chances of being reunited with your dog if it is lost or stolen. The Council’s Environmental Warden can micro-chip your dog for you - this service is free until end of March 2012. Some local vets also micro-chip your dogs free during consultations for other matters.

Fouling

Under the Litter (Northern Ireland) Order 1994, anyone in charge of a dog must clean up after their animal.

Owners should automatically bring a poop-scoop or disposable bag with them when going to walk their dog. Diseases such as Toxocariasis can thrive in dog excrement and Toxocara eggs can survive in contaminated soil for up three years. Contact with these parasites can lead to blindness.

All litter bins within Moyle Council area are dual purpose and poop-scoop bags may be disposed of in any of them. Failure to clean up after your dog could result in a fixed penalty of £50.00 being issued.

Straying

It is illegal to allow your dog to stray. When you are not with your dog to keep it under control you do not know what it is doing. It could be causing a nuisance to other members of the community, become involved in sheep worrying or attacks. You could be prosecuted for further offences committed while your dog is straying and liable to pay substantial compensation for damage/injuries to people or animals. You are liable to be issued with a £75.00 fixed penalty if your dog is found straying.

Neutering

Preventing unwanted puppies reduces the number of stray and abandoned dogs which could end up being needlessly destroyed. Neutering your dog will prevent this from happening and may bring about some benefits to the dog’s health by preventing some illnesses in older dogs and making your dog calmer. If you are claiming means tested benefit you may qualify for a free neutering voucher.

10 top tips
  1. Some of our favourite Christmas foods are dangerous for dogs to eat such as chocolate, grapes and raisins. Turkey bones can become lodged in a dog’s throat or intestines and onions can cause anaemia so avoid feeding any of these to your dog.
  2. Poinsettias, Amaryllis and Mistletoe are popular Christmas plants, but all of them are poisonous to dogs and should be kept out of reach.
  3. Everyone loves getting presents at Christmas, including dogs. Only buy toys specifically designed for dogs, as small parts can break and get swallowed, causing injury.
  4. Remember presents such as children’s toys can be appealing to dogs too.
  5. If you are expecting lots of visitors at Christmas, remember to allow a quiet place for your dogs to escape to if the noise gets too much. A scared or sleeping dog can snap if startled.
  6. If the weather is cold or wet, please make sure that older or thin coated dogs are kept warm when outdoors.
  7. If going away on holiday at Christmas with your dog make sure you know where the local vets are and have their telephone number to hand.
  8. Christmas decorations are very often bright and sparkly and dogs will find them attractive. Make sure your dog doesn’t try to play with them and either injure himself or pull your Christmas tree over!
  9. Electrical Christmas lights and decorations are very popular, but be aware that your dog may not recognise the difference between a tree outside and one in the house covered in Christmas lights, should he want to go to the toilet. It could be a shocking experience!
  10. Take the time out of your busy Christmas schedule to walk the dog and play with him/her. It can help you walk off the Christmas excess and stop your pet becoming bored and possibly destructive.

Further food safety information is available from the Council website http://www.moyle-council.org/ or by contacting Martin McHenry, Environmental Warden on 028 2076 2225.