Dog park approved despite objections

Permission has been granted for a new dog park in Athenry – despite objections from a neighbouring school that the noise will drive them barking mad.

But this week Galway County Council gave the go ahead for the development of the park for the ‘exercising and socialising’ of dogs – on condition that no floodlights are permitted.

The development includes the provision of 20 car parking spaces and a six foot high fence, along with rain shelters for the dogs and their owners at Knockaunglas, Athenry.

The adjacent Athenry Boys School was opposed to the development and had submitted a lengthy statement to Council’s planning department outlining their concerns.

According to school, the noise generated by dogs barking will interfere with the teaching of pupils attending there.

They say that they have over 140 pupils and expect this to increase over the coming academic year. A number of parents have expressed their concerns to the school with regard to the development.

“We are all familiar with how loud and occasionally intimidating it can be to hear dogs bark. This can be louder and more intimidating when there are a number of dogs present.

“We are concerned that on occasions when there may be multiple dogs present, the noise will interfere with the class work of the pupils.

“The school currently has a difficulty with stray dogs accessing the school site and fouling the pupils’ play areas. Teachers frequently have to escort stray dogs off the premises.

“While we acknowledge that those pursuing this development are responsible dog owners, we cannot overlook that the dog park might attract more stray dogs to the vicinity of the facility and this is something that places the pupils at risk”, it is stated in the submission.

The Athenry Dog Park Committee was established in 2016 and have been gathering support for an off-lead space in the area “where dogs can socialise, exercise and play and where their owners can be educated about responsible dog ownership and care for our environment”.

They said that in 2018 Athenry Community Council granted them the use of part of a disused field at Knockaunglas to establish a dog park – building on the success of similar parks in Dublin, Waterford, Northern Ireland and the UK.

The committee, made up of Jeni Whittaker, Fiona McDonagh and Jenny Klynsmith, insist that the dog park will help to ensure that the pets are kept in a safe, controlled area as well as ensuring that dog waste is collected.