THERE are suspicions in East Belfast that dog owners are using children’s swings in Belfast parks to train them to be more vicious, an Alliance Party MLA and councillor has claimed.
East Belfast representative, Cllr Naomi Long MLA, said after she had received a number of complaints from worried constituents about what appeared to them to be more than just simple vandalism.
Cllr Long stated:
“Sadly, park facilities are often vandalised, but I have received a number of reports that people with vicious looking dogs are encouraging their animals to ‘attack’ the seats on swings.
“This has been reported in Ormeau park, where cradle seats for very young children were destroyed, Avoneil playground, Clara park and others across Belfast.
“At the very least, these dog owners are responsible for the costly damage of council property. But witnesses suspect there is a more sinister motive, in that the dogs are being trained to be more aggressive by fighting with the seats.
“It means that children are unable to use the swings, but there are obviously safety issues here too. What happens if a dog escapes and there is a child on the swings? If the dogs have taught to attack the swinging seats, there is a chance that a child could be in real danger.
“I raised this issue at the City Council’s Park and Amenities sub-committee meeting, and would like the public, park rangers, dog wardens and police to be aware of the situation.
“It’s totally irresponsible to encourage dogs to vandalise property at the expense of the community, but it is worse when it happens in a children’s playground. And if reinforced seats can be eaten through, what chance would a child’s leg have.”