DOG mess left in public places (on pavements, public footpaths and walkways especially) is one of the biggest grievances shared by local residents. It is perhaps the most offensive litter on our streets! And of course, it’s a health hazard! But what can be done about it? The issue is to be considered by Hedon Town Council at a meeting on Thursday.
It is the case that the overwhelming majority of dog walkers are responsible and do clean up after their dogs. But a small minority damage the reputation of dog walkers everywhere by failing to do so. If you are a dog owner, you have a legal duty to clean up every time your dog messes in a public place. Dog walkers need to carry a poop scoop and disposable bag whenever they take their dogs out to a public place.
The East Riding Council has the power to make Public Spaces Protection Orders (and in Hedon that specifies that dogs are excluded from children’s play areas (Cleeve Road, Drapers Lane, Cromwell Road, Robson Way) and school grounds (Hedon Primary, Inmans Primary and Hedon Nursery). Dogs must be on leads when in burial grounds (St. Augustine’s Church and Hedon Cemetery). It is an offence to breach a Public Space Protection Order, and you could be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £75.
But, whether in a protected space or in the public streets, those persistently letting their dogs foul and not clearing up behind them need to be reported.
The last time we noted the number of fixed penalty notices issued for dog fouling was in 2014 when 16 notices were issued – 15 by East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s dog wardens and one by the police. In 2019, in response to a Freedom of Information request, the East Riding Council stated that it had issued only 3 fixed penalty notices.
So what might the Town Council do? The East Riding Council can provide help by working with town and parish councils to discuss local problems. Advice can be given on reporting offenders more effectively. Signs, stickers, posters and other warning and information materials can also be purchased and used by town and parish councils.
The Town Council also installed several dog waste bag dispensers in 2014 which had some initial success and praise. Is it something that can be built upon?
But what else might be done to stop or discourage irresponsible dog owners? Reproduced from an article in 2014 but still relevant.
One idea is for affected residents to keep an incident diary. So for example if you regularly see someone acting irresponsibly then remember the details; who, what, where, and when – and write that up in a diary afterwards. The times that incidents take place is important if a dog warden or council official is to follow-up with an enforcement visit.
A good publicity campaign could help too. As well as regular articles and warnings in the press, a local campaign group could be formed that might decide to act by highlighting the scale of the problem down a particular street or area. A Day of Action might involve using temporary dyes to spray a red circle around individual dog poo piles on pavements. Where bags of poo are regularly dumped or hung, temporary signs or flags could be placed or hung saying “We’re on to you! No dog poo here!” or something similar.
Personally confronting irresponsible dog owners or photographing them is best avoided – but as regular offenders are caught and prosecuted by the council, then a public name and shame campaign might have some effect on deterring others.
Education: Having dog wardens and others speaking to children in the local schools is something that has been done before, and can help educate them – and their parents – on the health risks associated with dog mess and being a responsible dog owner.
Have readers got other suggestions on what might be done to tackle this problem? Let us know – leave a comment!