A Carrick school is enlisting the support of local residents to tackle the anti-social behaviour of a ‘small number’ of dog owners.
Principal of Carrickfergus Grammar Kieran Mulvenna confirmed he would be writing to both parents and residents in the area over the issue of dog fouling and related problems around the North Road school.
The move follows a Times report last week on Downshire schoolboy Cameron Clarke, who lost his sight in one eye after coming into contact with dog faeces infected with the rare parasite Toxocara canis.
Writing in the Times this week, Mr Mulvenna expressed his sympathy to the Clarke family, adding there was little surprise to hear of how the situation had occurred.
He added: “I very much welcome the fact that your article highlights the dangers posed by the anti-social behaviour of a small number of dog owners and would like to share our own experience of this problem.
“On a regular basis dogs are brought onto Carrickfergus Grammar School grounds, both on and off the leash. I have witnessed dog owners allowing their animal to defecate on areas where children play: my PE staff regularly face the disgusting task of clearing dog faeces from pitches and play areas.
“On two occasions I have had to contact the PSNI and Carrickfergus Council to report aggressive behaviour by dogs which are allowed to roam freely amongst pupils by irresponsible owners.”
Mr Mulvenna indicated he had undertaken personal patrols around school grounds in an attempt to catch pet owners who had left behind dog waste, but had little success.
The Grammar principal said he would soon be writing to all parents to notify them about the problem. “I shall also be writing to the occupants of houses in streets which sit adjacent to the school to enlist their support by reporting owners whom they have seen put children’s health at risk by their selfish behaviour,” he added.
In the letter to parents, the matter is identified as one of ‘grave concern’ to the Board of Governors at the school.
“Some members of the public, with no regard for the safety of your children, permit their animals to defecate on play areas and rugby pitches and leave the mess to pose a serious health hazard to others,” the letter reads.
“If you know of anyone whose dog is permitted to use school grounds in this deplorable way please do not hesitate to contact me: I shall not hesitate to have recourse to legal proceedings if this is what it takes to protect my pupils from the irresponsibility of those who are certainly old enough to know better.”