One year on from the Scottish Government increasing fixed penalty notices to £80, Scottish charities have joined forces to call for further action on dog fouling.
Keep Scotland Beautiful and the Dogs Trust have joined NFU Scotland to appeal for policy makers, the private sector and individuals to ‘step up’ rather than ‘step in’ the issue.
Despite dog fouling fines increasing by 100 per cent in 2016, the levels of dog mess in Scotland are at their highest in a decade – contributing towards the country’s declining environmental quality standards.
Not cleaning up after your dog on public land is illegal, yet dog owners are continuing to flout the law. As a result, the charities are calling for a review of current legislation and enforcement measures – to ensure that procedures are effective, rules are enforced and fines are paid.
Derek Robertson, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “Evidence from national and local research demonstrates that the impact of dog fouling is consistently one of the most important environmental issues to communities. We need a louder collective voice and more effective, and efficient, use of existing resources to tackle the issue in Scotland.
“Keep Scotland Beautiful is leading the way with the establishment of the first ever national stakeholder group to investigate the issue and develop an action plan. However, Scotland would benefit from further intervention to ensure that our declining local environmental quality standards are addressed as a national priority. Our audits across Scotland highlight that one in 10 sites are blighted with incidents of fouling – we’re not going to stand ‘in’ it any more!”
Dog fouling is a nuisance and a health hazard, and it is the dog owner’s responsibility to clean up after their pet. Despite high profile campaigns across the country to try and change the behaviour of owners, many continue to fail to pick up their dog’s mess because they believe that they won’t be caught.
Jennifer Terris, Scottish campaigns manager for Dogs Trust, said: “Despite the majority of dog owners in Scotland picking up after their dogs, there remain a percentage who dodge their duties, causing the reputation of dogs to suffer as a result. Dogs Trust continue to support local authorities across the UK in their efforts to promote responsible dog ownership, through our national dog fouling campaign ‘The Big Scoop’, to crack down on the number of dog owners who do not pick up after their dog’s mess.
“Having recently appointed a Scottish national campaigns team, Dogs Trust plans to coordinate its efforts in Scottish communities most affected by dog fouling, in order to better understand what resources are needed to tackle this.”
Dog fouling is not only an issue in residential and urban areas, a pilot study undertaken by NFU Scotland in partnership with Keep Scotland Beautiful concluded that there is a persistent problem on agricultural land.
Andrew McCornick, NFU Scotland’s President, added: “Dog fouling on or near agricultural land is an increasing problem for many farmers, especially when located on urban fringes and is an important issue for dog owners to be aware of, both for the health of their own pet but also the livestock grazing on that land.
“With lambing and calving now underway for another year, we ask members of the public pick up any faeces from dogs they are walking, including when they are using agricultural land.
“Parasites found in some dog faeces can result in the abortions of cattle and death in sheep and with several reports over recent months, we are pleading with the public to be more responsible.
“Regardless of where you are, you should pick up after your dog, and not just flick it into a nearby field.”
The charities are also calling for members of the public to back the campaign and remember the two rules for fouling:
○ Grab it, bag it, bin it – any bin will do
○ See it, report it
Further information can be found at www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/dogfouling.