Councillor welcomes animal welfare action

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Four Improvement Orders recently imposed to protect the health and well-being of donkeys and horses grazing on lands in the Culmore Road area, are being complied with, according to a local councillor.

SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack welcomed the swift action taken by Derry City and Strabane District Council after constituents raised concerns about the condition of some animals, their pastures and enclosures, next to Boom Hall in the Bay Road area.

A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council said it was aware of the issue and animal welfare officers had issued four Improvement Notices to owners of the animals under the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011.

The council said it remains committed to working to ensure the safety and welfare of all animals in the area.

Colr. Cusack said: “This is an area which most people will know as the public pathway which leads from Bay Park to the Foyle Hospice at Culmore.

“There have been animals of all varieties in the surrounding fields for years, but mostly horses and donkeys. “However, I was contacted recently by constituents extremely concerned about the area and worried about the general condition of the animals and their environments. I immediately contacted Environmental Health who were concerned enough to report to Animal Welfare who inspected promptly and as a result issued four time-restricted improvement orders on those responsible.

“The area is also being examined with a view to the food and waste in the vicinity to ensure it is not a public health issue.

“I have recently been assured that the Orders have now been complied with but they will continue to evaluate the situation and any breach will be dealt with expediently.”

A spokesperson for the council said it has an obligation under legislation to enforce the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011 where it applies to non-farmed animals.

This includes domestic pets such as cats, dogs, horses and donkeys. The Animal Welfare Service is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

The powers in the Act allow council inspectors to take a range of actions to address any animal welfare case to protect animals from unnecessary suffering.

This includes providing basic advice, giving a warning, issuing a legally binding Improvement Notice or prosecution.

Since April 2012, there has been 37 animals seized and in prosecution cases where the owner is known, the council applies to the courts for costs associated with the seizure of the animals.

However, when an animal is seized and no owner comes forward at the Disposal Order hearing in court, the council is unable to recoup any costs.

Colr. Cusack added: “I am relieved that measures to improve the health and well-being of these animals are being enforced and would like to thank the concerned citizens for alerting me.

“I will continue to monitor this issue to make sure these conditions are applied and standards improve to ensure these animals get the care and attention they deserve.”