A Staffordshire Bull Terrier left prowling the streets of Tramore by its irresponsible owner caused fear and anger among locals who encountered the potentially dangerous pet.

Among them were Town Councillors Lola O’Sullivan and Joe Conway, the Mayor, and they vented their feelings at Tuesday night’s May meeting of the Council.

It was the previous day, Bank Holiday Monday, that the unmuzzled mutt was left roaming unattended and Cllr. O’Sullivan said she was shocked and frightened of the possible consequences. She saw the animal go for a smaller dog being walked by its owner and when the man protectively picked up his pet the bull terrier went for them both.

The man pluckily fended him off and she rang the gardai. They referred her to the dog warden, but his phone was switched off. She again telephoned the gardai who told her they had made several attempts to contact the warden, as well as animal welfare personnel and The Pound, but without success.

Fearing that somebody might be seriously injured, she suggested that a vet be called to put down the dog.

She said she was not blaming the warden who had an impossible job, ludicrously having to cover the whole of the county on his own. He rang her back on Tuesday and confirmed that he had been off duty and there was no cover at weekends. “But that’s not good enough”, complained Cllr. O’Sullivan who insisted some type of emergency service should be available at all times. “A child could have been savaged”, she asserted.

She exonerated the gardai, saying the dog was very aggressive and they could not be expected to catch it.

“He wanted to adopt me”

Mayor Conway said he came across the bull terrier as he exited the SuperValu Shopping Centre with his groceries. “He came running with a friendly look on his face as if he wanted to adopt me”, he joked.

But he got an uneasy feeling as the savage pet displayed unwelcome interest while he set about loading his stuff into the car boot. Changing tack he closed down the boot door and moved to the side and started unloading gingerly, one item at a time, as the bull terrier panted beside him. He eventually completed the task and got quickly into the driver’s seat, only for the dog to attempt to get on board with him.

He had no intention of returning the animal’s affection however and shut the door fast. “He was a powerful specimen and not a nice creature at all”, he said. “Such dogs are very aggressive and there has to be a service for coping when they are on the loose. This could easily have been a life-or-death situation for somebody on the day”.

Cllr. O’Sullivan suggested writing to the County Council Environment Department seeking emergency cover, in the interests of people’s safety.

But Town Manager Mr. Brian White said it was difficult, on account of the government imposed staff embargo, to provide back-up for the dog warden. The Council would have a look at the situation but it would not be easy.

He said the warden was entitled to his time off and the real problem in this case was the owner who didn’t take responsibility for his dog. Furthermore there were people who knew who he was and they should come forward with the information.

Cllr. O’Sullivan said they could well have been discussing a serious incident – somebody in Tramore owned that dog and owners needed to take responsibility for their pets.