Swann urges North Antrim pit bull amnesty
NORTH Antrim Ulster Unionist Assembly member and UUP Chief Whip Mr Robin Swann, , has called on Ballymena, Ballymoney and Moyle Councils to re-introduce an excellent example set by Ballymena a number of years ago and implement an amnesty for pit bull-type dogs.
Mr Swann, the North Antrim UUP Chairman and a past President of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, also called for local councils and the farming community to be given even tougher measures to combat attacks on livestock by any breed of dog.
Mr Swann, who is also a member of the Stormont Agriculture Committee, said: “A number of years ago, Ballymena introduced an initiative which was highly commended. During that time, 61 dogs were examined as part of the amnesty, of which 46 turned out not to be pit bulls, but 15 were confirmed as the illegal breed and humanely destroyed.
“That is 15 potential killer dogs which could have maimed both humans or livestock which have been responsibly taken out of circulation. I would, therefore, urge all three councils in North Antrim, Ballymena, Ballymoney and Moyle, to re-introduce this amnesty to combat the menace posed by such a dangerous breed.”
Mr Swann also said it was imperative dog owners throughout Northern Ireland, and not just the North Antrim constituency, exercised firm control over their pets to ensure the animals don’t become involved in sheep worrying.
He said: “People need to make very sure that when they are walking in the countryside, they guard their dogs so as these family pets do not wander away and attack farm stock, especially sheep and lambs which are exceptionally vulnerable.
“Placid pets can easily become killer hounds and over the years farmers have had to face the terrible sight of their flocks being butchered by these so-called family dogs.
“People must also ensure they know where their dogs are at all times. It is very dangerous to simply open the door, usher out the family pet and hope the dog will return in a matter of hours.
“This presents a real danger to the farming community in Ulster, especially if the dogs get together in packs. They then have the potential to cause considerable pain to the farm animals as well as inflict immense financial damage on the farmer.
“Worse still, there is the real danger that dogs off the lead or unsupervised could attack young children or adults and inflict severe bites on them.
“No dog should be allowed to go free at night, and should be kept indoors or on a chain, especially at night.
“The Province’s farming families have been through considerable traumas already with the pressures of the Foot and Mouth Disease crisis and the 10-year European beef ban. Northern Ireland’s agricultural community does not need to cope with the added strain of combating the threat from sheep worrying.
“In this respect, all dog owners throughout Ulster have a responsibility to ensure their pets do not become a stumbling block to our farming families, many of whom are trying to rebuild their livelihoods following the FMD and BSE burdens.
“I fully support the rights of farmers to take whatever steps they deem necessary to protect their flocks and other animals from stray or unaccompanied dogs roaming across their lands.
“Indeed, I will be lobbying the Stormont Executive to have introduced hard-hitting legislation which will mean much stiffer penalties against those dog owners whose pets are caught attacking sheep and lambs,” said Assemblyman Swann.
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Weather for Ballymena
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 8 C
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Temperature: 5 C to 12 C
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