Banbridge Council is being urged by some local pet owners to re-think its ban on dogs at the local cemetery.
Unlike in the case of Grey Friar’s Bobby, the Skye Terrier known in 19th century Edinburgh for supposedly spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner, this behaviour would not be tolerated by Banbridge District Council.
But on the flip-side mourners in the area have been safeguarded as far as is possible, from the distress of discovering dog-fouling at the grave of a loved one.
Introducing the debate on the Banbridge Saints and Sinners facebook page, John McMaster said: “Banbridge District Council - are they Saints or Sinners? Can I ask members of this group to put up their views on a matter which I have been thinking about recently.
“I look after a Westie dog, usually about five days a week, and take it for a walk each day. Sometimes when I’m up the Newry Road I’d love to call in to the Public Cemetery and check up on the flowers on various family graves, but unfortunately can’t because the Council says ‘No dogs allowed’, except for guide dogs.
“I always have the dog on a lead and always make sure I carry ‘pooh’ bags with me and clean up.
“So do members feel the Council are right to ban dogs, even on a lead, from the Public Cemetery?”
A lot of people felt that if dog owners were responsible, the ban could be lifted.
Audrey Toland said: “if you do the right thing and lift what the dog leaves you’re doing nothing wrong, and if the dog is on a lead it can’t run over the graves”.
But not everyone agreed that all owners would keep dogs on leads and clean up.
Lisa Doherty said: “There will always be those owners who don’t do this so the council are probably right for their decision”.
Debby Johnston Clyde agreed: “Just imagine someone turning up to the grave of a loved one and seeing that a dog has done its business. It would be heart breaking. It is a pity, but we only have society to blame and not the council in this case.”
Drawing a distinction between recreational dog walkers and those specifically visiting a family grave, Steven McMahon responded: “The council need to show some compassion - what if the dog’s owner is buried in it?”
Jenny McElroy said: “I bring my dog to my husbands grave on the Dromore Road and there’s no signs and nobody has ever complained.”
When contacted by the Leader a council spokesperson said, “Only guidedogs are permitted in public cemeteries.”