Dog mess name-and-shame works say councils

Edinburgh environmental wardens talk with a dog owner on the Cramond-Silverknowes prom. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Edinburgh environmental wardens talk with a dog owner on the Cramond-Silverknowes prom. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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SOME of the first councils in Britain to name and shame dog owners that allow their pets to foul the pavement have told how the threat of embarrassment has halved the problem.

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council in South Wales launched a crackdown three years ago that raised on-the-spot fines to £180, deployed plain clothes wardens and posted the faces of persistent offenders on its website.

Since the hardline stance was adopted, the council claims that instances of dog fouling have been reduced by 50 per cent.

The news will buoy city environment leaders in Edinburgh who have declared war on careless pet owners and announced plans to become the first authority in Scotland to use new Publicity Orders which allow details of people and their offences to be made public,

Repeat offenders could also be hit with “doggy Asbos” which include microchipping of pets so that owners can be traced.

In Wales, the offensive has seen complaints drop by 61 per cent.

“It’s made an astounding difference,” explained Councillor Barrie Sutton from Blaenau Gwent. Not so long ago, walking along many streets was like dodging landmines.

“Now, at least in my area, you hardly see any dog fouling at all.”

In the first year of the policy, more than 2,000 fixed penalty notices were issued – with 113 successful prosecutions for non-payment as a result.

Darwen Council, in Lancashire, undertook a similar crackdown in 2012 asking residents to report culprits and take photographs of owners and their pets.

Cllr Jim Smith, the authority’s environment leader, said the policy has worked with a flood of incriminating images being sent to the council.

He said: “We use naming and shaming where appropriate, to tackle this blight within our streets and towns.

“Since we began our initiative to educate and act against irresponsible dog owners who fail to clean up after their pet, the number of dog fouling complaints rose, not because more owners failed to clear waste but because residents now have the confidence to report incidents of dog fouling, knowing our council will fine and prosecute those that commit such a vile act.”

And whilst authorities have yet to exercise the power to plaster photos of repeat offenders in area parks, Cllr Ron O’Keeffe believes that threat of exposure has seen the problem halved in his constituency.

“It’s important that other local authorities take this issue seriously,” he said.

“Because it is a hazard to public health, but by working to educate the public and introducing deterrents, we can reduce the problem.”

New powers revealed yesterday by the News include raising maximum fines for dog fouling from £500 to £1000 and using microchips to prevent the animals from visiting problem areas. Dog owners could also be forced to keep their pet on a lead at all times.