Aberdeen council bosses are being forced to shell out thousands of pounds each year replacing swings ripped apart by dogs, the Evening Express can reveal today.
It has emerged some “irresponsible” dog owners are training their pets to clamp down on the play equipment to improve their jaw strength, in what Aberdeen City Council claims is a “common issue” across the city.
In the last fortnight alone, the local authority has replaced 14 seats, at a cost of £1,120, due to dog damage branded “completely unacceptable”.
In the course of a year, the council normally has to replace around 50 seats, at a cost of £4,000 to the taxpayer, with the “majority” relating to dog damage.
The swings at the playpark beside the Beach Boulevard are the latest to fall victim to the problem, with the council having no replacement seats available, with a delivery expected this week.
Parents visiting the park yesterday hit out at the dog owners responsible, branding it “disgusting”.
Gabor Papp, who lives near the beach area, said it had also happened at a nearby park he had visited with his daughter Nora on Duff Street.
The 46-year-old said: “A man with a dog there was letting the dog eat the swing. It has been changed about three times.
“I’m very angry about it, how can people be so irresponsible?”
Meanwhile full-time mum Sarah Green, 33, from Mastrick, said: “It’s a bit disgusting.”
Another park-goer, Angie Anderson, 35, from Bridge of Don, said the issue was “awful”.
She added: “I wouldn’t let my dog do anything like that.”
And Sarah Lawrie, 41, from Balmedie, said: “It would be hard to catch them because it will be happening in the evenings.”
Firefighter Michael McCafferty, 39, who lives in Countesswells, said it was “bad for the kids”.
Councillor Michael Hutchison, who represents the area, said: “It is completely unacceptable that dogs are being trained to rip apart children’s play equipment.
“It’s no different from any other form of vandalism and those responsible should be ashamed.
“It’s unfortunate children could have to go without because of a small number of irresponsible pet owners. I hope the swings can be repaired as soon as possible.”
An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said: “We are expecting a delivery of 30 replacement seats this week as we only have a few left in stock at the moment.
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“The normal process is for us to re-order when we have only 15 remaining. Although some of the damage is caused by people using sharp objects, the main cause is dog owners having their pets bite on the seats to improve their jaw strength.
“They also damage the toddler cradle seats – although these are made of tougher plastic – and the rubber seats on the zip slides.
“The flat seats cost £50 each – with removal and replacement costs this increases to £80 each per seat. In the last fortnight we have replaced 14 seats, at a cost of £1,120, due to dog damage.
“Normally we have to replace around 50 seats a year at a cost of £4,000.”