Central Park and Madison Square Dog Park Run are the inspiration behind a local Councillor’s suggestion that Fermanagh and Omagh District Council create dog parks in Enniskillen and Omagh.

Omagh Councillor Sorcha McAnespy, whose friends in New York regularly take their pooches for walks in specially designed dog parks, made the proposal at a recent Council meeting.

She believes space is needed for pooches to be let off their leashes, allowing them to mingle with other dogs, as long as the park rules are adhered to.

“The fact is that many dog owners in the urban areas are restricted to walking their dog on a lead with nowhere for them to get a good run and I believe that dog parks would also add a social aspect and a meeting place for like-minded people and canines,” said Ms. McAnespy.

“Some constituents in Omagh have suggested a suitable location and we shall have to identify somewhere in Enniskillen but the feedback from the Officer in charge was positive,” she said.

“People say you can take them out into the countryside, but you can’t just let a dog off its lead and run through farmers’ fields because they might disturb the animals,” Ms. McAnespy continued.

“My friends and I have a group chat and one of the girls lives in New York. She was talking about bringing Charlie to the park and how they have swimming pools for the animals. She also said the dogs love playing with each other. My other friends asked if the Council would look into this.

“The idea is for a place that’s closed off. It’s a novel idea but it’s not something that would cost a huge amount of money to the tax payer. Just a fence and a gate, maybe a few benches, dispensers for poop bags and a tap for water to give the dogs a drink,” she said, adding: “There’s a bar in Belfast, The Dirty Onion, and they have a dog owner’s evening. It’s a social thing.

“The more I talk to dog owners, the more I’ve come to realise that dogs are often members of the family,” said Ms. McAnespy, concluding: “I think it would be positive for the district. My role as a Councillor is to look at the bigger picture and I would love to see this going forward.”

The suggestion has been welcomed by local dog owner John McDowell, who walks his impressive Eurasier Huskies Mylo and Nikita around the Derrychara playing fields every morning.

“It’s the only place where I am not plagued by traffic and I can let them off the lead for a run,” he said, continuing: “I would love a place where we could let them off as long as there are responsible owners who clean up after the animals; after all they are a part of your family.”

He thinks a dog park “is a very good idea.”

During the Environmental Services Committee meeting last week, a Council official said the local authority is already looking into creating dog parks but is having difficulty finding a suitable location in Enniskillen. “But staff are looking for suitable options where dogs, particularly larger dogs, can get off their lead and stretch their legs – I would certainly be of a mind to bring a recommendation to Council and work up a scheme for it,” he said.