Council warns dog owners may face greater beach restrictions

by Rachel Cunningham

Rachel Cunningham

Dublin City Council has warned that dog owners may face increased restrictions on beach use and more frequent patrols by dog wardens, in an effort by local authorities to keep coastal waters clean. Bylaws may also be reviewed in an effort to improve bathing water quality.

The UCD Acclimatise Project has reported that even one dog foul can result in contamination the size of a tennis court. The project has identified dog faeces as an important cause of water pollution, which can result in temporary bathing prohibition notices being issued by local authorities.

In an effort to address this, the team has released an animated video entitled ‘Leave Only Paw Prints’, illustrating the direct link between dog fouling and poor beach water quality. As summer rapidly approaches, Ireland’s dog owners are being reminded to pick up after their pets when using the country’s beaches, leaving only paw prints in the sand behind them.

People are more likely to come into contact with dog faeces on beaches through swimming and other recreational activities during the bathing season, June 1 to September 15. Contact with dog faeces can have serious health impacts, including diarrhea and even blindness in children. 

Commenting on the initiative Professor Wim Meijer, Professor of Microbiology at UCD, said: “The unique aspect of this problem is that it can be rectified through our own actions. We are confident that increased awareness of this problem will lead more people to clean up after their dog. Each and every dog owner who makes the conscious decision to pick up after their pet will be making a difference.”

To gather data on the topic, in 2019 the UCD team began investigating the amount of dog fouling on four Dublin beaches; Sandymount Strand, Merrion Strand, Donabate and Portrane beaches. The results were then used to calculate its impact on bathing water quality, with research ongoing.

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