River Valley dog enclosure waterlogged – dog owners group denounce amenity

by Rose Barrett
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Dog owners in Fingal have been highly critical of the condition and maintenance of the enclosed dog pen and area designated in River Valley Park for dogs off lead. While there was huge opposition to the facility passed by Fingal County Council in 2017 – Fingal DOG Owners Group among them – many dog owners state the entry pen and area is constantly flooded and totally unfit for purpose.

On social media, a resident of River Valley stated her little Jack Russell cross got out under the gate to the entry pen in seconds and she was lucky another person caught it quickly.

Other local residents described it as being “built on a marsh”… “Apparently, they put drainage into it, and made it worse”…”This is what FCC is wasting tax payers money on, a dog pen unfit for purpose”…”It’s disgraceful”…”ruined the park for this.” 

Heaviest rain in July for years the cause of flooding

However, FCC noted that it is the recent heavy rainfall that has caused flooding in this area and other areas of the park, and one of the two entry pens was not flooded.

“The current location of the dog off leash area within the Ward River Valley Park is along the river on the base of the valley. Similar to other grass areas of public open space, it is subject to occasional saturation levels following extreme weather,” said a council spokesperson.

“We’ve had the wettest July in recent years; last Friday, Met Eireann warned of heavy rain for Dublin with over 25mms possible!  The wet conditions have caused enormous issues for all areas within the public realm and the flooding experienced was not exclusive to this location.”

New boundary fencing, additional drainage, a redesigned entrance/exit holding area, a stone surface perimeter pathway and segregated area for smaller dogs were introduced in recent months. The council is considering a number of other locations for dog off leash provision within the park as part of the current Ward River Valley Park Development Plan.

Dog owners are welcome to submit suggestions to FCC which is fully committed to ensuring that this space is fit for purpose and an enjoyable space for park users to allow their dog off leash.

Dermot Byrne, Chair of Fingal DOG Owners Group stated: “We’ve been at loggerheads with FCC for years over this, and pointed out the disadvantages of dog enclosures as opposed to designated areas for dogs off leads. We pointed out why the rest of the world has moved away from enclosed dog pens.

“FCC won’t listen. Enclosed pens can lead to aggression issues and anti-social behaviour among dogs. It can further lead to the increases of diseases being spread among dogs in an area with concentrated excrement and urine.”

In 2018, a Yorkshire Terrier was savaged in Corkagh Park in Clondalkin (South Dublin County Council) when a dalmation latched onto the smaller dog and mauled it to death, a trauma witnessed by the dog owner, her daughter and nephew.

Could this not happen also in areas designated for dogs off lead, even with owners present?

Mr Byrne argued that Fingal DOGs gave Canine Good Citizen Classes pre-Covid, with professional dog trainers. Dog owners could sign up for proper classes, teaching their dogs to return on the owner’s call. With 220 acres in the Ward River Valley Park, there is ample space and natural boundaries to allow space for dogs off leads, he argued.

“Dog owners in Swords can only let the dog off lead before 11am and “an hour before sundown” (council rules),” he added,

“Obviously sundown changes every week! It is extremely dangerous for women to be walking dogs late at night in secluded parts of the park.” The group had suggested colour coding areas of the park, that is, an area for dogs only On lead, an Offlead zone and Summer zoning, dogs On lead June-September, 12-5pm; otherwise Off lead, under effective control.”

Photos Fingal DOG Owners Group

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