A campaign to remind dog owners of what could happen if they don’t clear up after their dogs is being launched by Northampton Borough Council in April. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the issue, encourage more dog owners to pick up after their pets and appeal to the public to report incidents and problem areas to the council so that targeted action can be taken. Campaign posters and lamppost stickers will be going up across the town as the council’s neighbourhood wardens prepare for a three-month crackdown on anyone they see not clearing up after their dogs. Verbal warnings, written warnings and Fixed Penalty Notices of £80, which if not paid could lead to a fine of up to £1,000, will be handed out to those spotted not clearing up their dog’s mess.
Councillor John Caswell, Northampton Borough Council cabinet member for the environment, said: "Dog mess is unpleasant as well as a serious health hazard that can lead to blindness. "There are many responsible dog owners who do pick up after their pets, but this campaign aims to raise awareness of the problem and make more dog owners do the responsible thing. There’s no excuse not to clean up, as there are hundreds of dog-waste bins and even more general litterbins around the town. Not to clean up is a crime and we will be cracking down on it."
The campaign will be launched in Eastfield Park on Tuesday 3 April. Councillor Caswell will be joining neighbourhood warden Andrew Cullinane, his six-year-old lurcher Bayley and chair of the Friends of Eastfield Park Vic Smith to put up campaign posters and stickers. After the launch neighbourhood wardens will be working together to carry out impromptu patrols across the rest of the town and hope to encourage members of the public to tell them if they witness repeat incidents or know of a particular problem area. Call them on 0300 330 7000 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
What the law says: It is an offence to allow a dog to foul on public land, which includes paths, alleyways, parks and open spaces. It is the responsibility of the dog owner or the person in charge of the dog to clear up any dog foul left by their dog. Anyone failing to clean up after their dog can be issued with an £80 Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN), which if not paid could lead to a prosecution and fine of up £1,000 if the case goes to court.
Information from Keep Britain Tidy: Keep Britain Tidy research shows that dog fouling is a major concern to members of the public and that 70% of local authorities have some sort of problem in their local area. According to Keep Britain Tidy stats, in 2010 the UK dog population was estimated to be eight million, with dogs producing approximately 1,000 tonnes of excrement each day. In a recent survey of over 10,000 sites dog fouling was present on 7% of these sites. Some dog owners still fail to clean up after their dogs and the highest level of dog fouling can be found in areas where people actually live. Fixed Penalty Notices for dog fouling were introduced in October 2001. Although Keep Britain Tidy has recorded a reduction in overall levels of dog fouling since 2001/02, it is still a significant cause of offence amongst the public. Dog fouling is a crime that impacts on our environment. It is unpleasant and dangerous as it carries bacteria that can be harmful to you and your children. The health risks of dog fouling are very serious. Anyone coming into contact with dog faeces risks contracting a disease called toxocariasis, which can cause abdominal pain, pneumonia, asthma and even blindness.
Local information: There are 517 dog waste bins across Northampton as well as over 1,000 litterbins that can also be used to dispose of bagged dog waste. Legislation to tackle dog fouling was introduced in October 2001. Since 2002 128 people have been fined in Northampton. Northampton Borough Council neighbourhood wardens are accredited to issue FPNs for dog fouling. The council’s newly recruited park rangers are also undergoing accreditation training. The main problem they face though is that they have to catch people in the act before they can issue a FPN.
Depending on the circumstances, warnings, advice and dog waste bags are also issued to dog owners spotted not cleaning up after their dogs for whatever reason, as not seeing a dog foul or not having a suitable means of clearing up is not a reasonable excuse and owners could still be fined and face prosecution.