A campaign for a public access, secure, off lead dog park in the Ballymena area has been gaining steady momentum.
Mary Davey, a Veterinary Surgeon with vets4pets, reveals she was prompted to champion the idea after one of her dogs passed away in late 2014 leaving her oldest dog, Buster, without a companion.
Mary explains: “In early 2015, my heart was captured by a photograph of a beautiful Pointer crossbreed called Jenny who was in Monaghan County Council pound. Jenny was destined to be euthanized if she wasn’t claimed after seven days so I knew I had to act quickly- I called the pound and picked her up the next day!
“Despite all my experience with dogs after being a veterinary surgeon for 16 years, I was not prepared for what followed. Although Jenny appeared to be your typical dog; a little underweight, didn’t always eat her food and chased our cats, this all improved over time.
“What didn’t improve was her behaviour walking on the lead and she had a fantastic ability to escape from the garden! After many hours spent chasing her around our neighbourhood we were forced to improve the garden fencing and introduce rules about opening the doors.
“I was left with a very high energy dog with a poor recall so I set about looking for secure areas to allow her to get some quality exercise. We found several privately owned dog parks but most were over an hour and a half away. Then we found that Belfast City Council operates two public and secure off lead dog parks which we began to visit frequently.
“After talking to dog owners at the park I learnt that many use it for a variety of reasons; some like us have a high energy dog who needs an enclosed space, some have mobility issues and wanted their dog to get more exercise, some want to improve their dog’s social skills.
“I began to see how having a park like this in Ballymena could drastically improve dog welfare. Behavioural issues are the number one reason pets are rehomed in Northern Ireland and I truly believe a dog friendly park would reduce the number of pets rehomed as they would have a safe place to exercise.
“I have been in touch with local councillors with Paul Maguire being particularly helpful and started a petition, we are just shy of our 500 signature target.”
If you would like to learn more or support this cause please visit: www.facebook.com/BallymenaDogPark or www.change.org/o/ballymena_dog_park