Dog mess owners could be named and shamed

Environmental wardens speak to a dog walker in Holyrood Park. Picture: Toby Williams
Environmental wardens speak to a dog walker in Holyrood Park. Picture: Toby Williams
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DOG owners who repeatedly allow their pets to foul pavements face being named and shamed as part of a tough new crackdown.

And owners could even have their faces plastered on posters and fixed to lampposts if the city follows the example of trailblazing councils that have launched a major assault on serial culprits.

The city aims to be the first in Scotland to use new Publicity Orders which allow details of people and their offences to be made public,

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

The campaign will use legislation normally reserved to punish large industrial polluters and flytippers to increase the penalties for dog fouling.

It follows a similar offensive by Darwen Council in Lancashire and Blaenau Gwent Council in South Wales, which exposed repeat offenders on its website following publicity orders obtained through the courts.

Environment leader Cllr Lesley Hinds said the city was determined to keep the streets clean.

She said: “The Scottish Government has passed legislation that increases fines for littering, fly-tipping and dumping quite substantially, and we would like dog fouling to be treated on the same basis.

“We have been pro-active in carrying out various initiatives in local neighbourhoods, and we regularly patrol the streets, but if we really want to deal with the issue of dog fouling we need to crack down on persistent offenders.

“We’re looking at a range of approaches, including increasing fines and monitoring behaviour, but by imposing publicity orders we would hope to deter irresponsible owners.

“Unfortunately, in every community in Edinburgh people will tell you dog fouling is an issue.”

The city is yet to outline in detail how repeat offenders would be exposed but following the example of other authorities their faces could be published on the council website or blanketed around streets and parklands.

Officials will also seek to double the maximum fine following conviction of dog fouling from £500 to £1000 to bring it closer into line with fines for littering.

The crackdown comes in the wake of the Evening News’ Dish the Dirt campaign which calls for stronger punishments on careless dog owners.

A spokeswoman for environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful said they backed the city’s tough new stance. “Studies show the public do actually think of dog fouling as litter, and it is one of the most offensive kinds of litter,” she said.

“Use of Publicity Orders and Dog Control Orders would be the ultimate deterrent as part of any education programme.

“If it is used to help secure behaviour change and reduce persistent offending, then of course we would support it.”

To combat dog-fouling some authorities – such as Texas – have compiled a DNA database of dogs to compare against their excrement.

10 tonnes of dog dirt a day

The Evening News Dish the Dirt campaign has seen us team up with Edinburgh council to enlist readers in an effort to clean up the city’s streets.

With 70,000 dogs in the capital creating 10 tonnes of mess a day, keeping streets clean is difficult. Edinburgh receives almost 6000 complaints about dog dirt per year, compared with roughly 4000 in Glasgow.

A special hotline has been set up allowing residents to report dog dirt directly to street cleansing teams. With toxocara infections possible when dog mess isn’t dealt with, the problem poses a serious health issue. Dog owners are advised to always carry something to clean up after their dog, such as plastic bags or nappy sacks. If possible dogs should be trained to do their business in the garden before going on a walk, and should never be allowed to go out on their own without someone to clean up afterwards.

New powers

NEW powers to tackle dog fouling would include:

• Publicity Orders that “name and shame” repeat offenders.

Legislation to expose serial culprits was only passed this year, so none have been issued so far in Scotland.

Anyone convicted of dog fouling could be issued one, publicising the fact that they have been found guilty, although how this would be done would be up to a judge.

• Using powers under the Control of Dogs Act, dog owners could be issued with a Dog Control Notice. The terms of the notice are set by a judge, but can include microchipping a dog and banning it from certain places. Dog owners can be forced to keep their animal on a lead at all times in public.

• In addition, fixed penalty notices for dog fouling would rise to between £50 and £80, and the maximum fine would rise from £500 to £1000.