Man’s best friend but worst nuisance

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dog fouling'glenrothes'gg'5.5.10

IT’S a much talked-about scourge of neighbourhoods throughout the land.

It’s a near-constant on agendas at local police community engagment gatherings and commnity council meetings.

Health risks, its indiscrimante effects and the ugliness of its blight on our surroundings are just some of the many things wrong about dog fouling.

The lazy and selfish conduct of some dog owners affects everyone in the community, whether they are a dog lover or not.

And, despite many attempts by people of all ages to educate and raise awareness, the discussion on how to solve it has continued for decades.

Would heavier fines or harsher punishments in general be the answer? Bringing back dog licences? What else?

Fife Council hopes public co-operation will become a more potent weapon in the fight against the menace.

There’s greater encouragement for people to report owners who refuse to clean up after their canines – or worse, scoop the excrement into a bag and just leave it lying, instead of binning it.

Council bosses reckon the pattern of activity is regular enough in some areas for people to spot persistent offenders, whom they can report in confidence .

Any landfill-designated litter bin will do now for disposing of a bag – so authority chiefs say there is simply no excuse.

It is also an offence not to put a bag in a bin, which constitutes littering and could net a £50 fine.

The council has, at present, four dog wardens operating acrosss the Kindgom, with numerous duties in addition to dog fouling patrols.

New legislation was introduced last year and their workload also covers control of dogs, dealing with strays, noisy dogs and ‘latchkey’ dogs – those let out by their owners to roam during the day.

An environmental enforcement team also has powers to deal with fouling.

Elaine Devine, service manager for enforcement and commercial operations, said the wardens and the team did their best.

A firm line had alway been taken with offenders, while the authority had a very strict approach towards non-payment of fines.

Fouling carried a fixed penalty of £40, which swelled to £60 if not paid within 28 days.

If sheriffs’ officers had be to be called in to pursue non-payers, there was a fee on top of the £60.

“We believe most owners are responsible; it’s just a few that are not,” said Ms Devine.

“But it it doesn’t take much for one dog to create a very big mess in one area.”

The council’s Wanted Campaign hopes to persuade the public to report culprits.

“A lot of people live, work and walk in an area and must have an idea who the offenders are,” said Ms Devine.

“‘Where’ and ‘who’ is what we need.

“Somebody has to see them getting in or out of a car, or know what kind of dog it is.

“Even if they don’t know the person’s name, they may see them often enough that they can come forward, in confidence if they wish.

The area committee in north east Fife hopes to fund more enforcement officers for a 12-month period, to deal purely with dog fouling, while any general waste bin is suitable for disposing of dog’s doings.

There should always be a bin nearby or in reasonable proximity, said Ms Devine, so it was “not an onerous task” to take a few extra steps.

More information on the Wanted Campaign is available by calling 08451 550022 and asking for the service related to dog fouling.

THE Mail’s Facebook page has been buzzing with comments on dog fouling and attitudes towards it. Here are just a few:

Kelly Rodger Smith – The amount of folk that don’t clean up after their dogs in East Wemyss is unreal! It’s absolutely disgusting!

Jackie Masson – Dog mess in Buckhaven is unreal! Going to the bus stop for work in the morning is like an assault course!

Steven Davies – I visit Leven beach for a Sunday walk occasionally and the dog poo near the children’s park area was awful. Maybe they should follow the Aberdour beach – dogs not on beach during summer months. I also think they should be on leads.

Jim Paterson – A few more bins down the beach would help. I occasionally take my parents’ dog and you have to carry a wee bag of poo a fair distance between bins. Noticed a lot of bags just left lying on the paths.

Angela Hackett – I am a dog owner and I always clear up after my dog. And I think those that don’t give us a bad name and it’s not fair. I live in Methilhill and I am always telling my kids to watch their feet on the way to school. Even my three-year-old knows to be careful.

Jane Heggie – If dogs were licensed, it would be the responsible owners who are already picking up and doing a good job with their dogs that would buy them, and policing the rest would be a nightmare.

Karla Holloway – Near the bottom of Fisher Street, people are leaving their dog poo there and it’s disgusting. People shouldn’t be allowed to have dogs if they can’t pick up their poo!