Greenway dog walkers must keep their pets on leashes - Cllrs

More needs to be done to get dog owners to keep their pets on leads when going for walks along the canal line and Old Rail Trail Greenway, according to local councillors.

Speaking at the September meeting of Westmeath County Council, which was held online, Cllr Aoife Davitt said that she has been contacted by a number of people about the large number of dog owners who do not keep their animals on leashes when going for walks at these popular recreation sites.

“It is an issue in Mullingar and I'm sure it is not the only place. Canal paths at certain places can have pinch points especially on the approach to bridges and they can get very narrow. For people with children, people with additional needs or cyclists it can be quite difficult for them to manoeuvre if dogs are not fully under the control of their owners.”

Responding to Cllr Davitt's motion on the issue, the council said that a byelaw requiring dog owners to keep their pets on a leash while using the Old Rail Trail was adopted in 2018. The local authority said it would engage with Watersways Ireland "on the issue of byelaws/dog control" along the Royal Canal.

Cllr Davitt suggested that there should be increased signage erected to remind dog owners of their responsibilties.

Enforcement of the byelaw can be undertaken by gardaí or community wardens. Supporting Cllr Davitt, Cllr Ken Glynn said that while the byelaw may be in place, a lot of dog owners weren't complying with it.

“Anyone who walks on the greenway will know that if you walk on a busy day you won't see too many dogs on leashes. I am sure that it has put some people off using the greenway.

“If we have byelaws they shold be implemented...They are not being policed,” he said.