Lottery bid to entice owners to pick up after pets

This dog owner is responsible, but not all owners clean up after their pet. Picture: Contributed
This dog owner is responsible, but not all owners clean up after their pet. Picture: Contributed
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LOTTERY tickets for dog owners who pick up after their pets, brightly coloured paint to highlight the offending deposits and a mobile phone app to report irresponsible owners are among the ideas from around the world which have been put forward as a way of cleaning up the Capital parks and pavements.

Environment spokesman and Leith councillor Chas Booth says it may be that none of the initiatives tried elsewhere would work here.

We can’t just say we will carry on as usual and expect the situation to change

CHAS BOOTH

But he claims with the council’s current efforts to tackle dog fouling winning a satisfaction rating of just 30 per cent, even the wackiest suggestions need to be examined.

Last month, the Evening News revealed CCTV was already being deployed to snare dog owners who regularly allowed their pets to soil public places, with six fixed penalty notices issued with the help of the cameras since 2013 – three in Moredun and three in Dumbiedykes.

Cllr Booth drew up a long list of other measures used in towns and cities – from the lottery initiative in New Teipei City, Taiwan, to the paint policy in Gloucestershire and West Dunbartonshire – he thinks should be investigated.

“I’m not necessarily suggesting any of them are going to solve the problem overnight,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a silver bullet. But given the satisfaction with the way the council deals with it is so bad, we need to explore more options.

“It’s quite possible none of these ideas would be feasible here, but we should at least look into whether they are.

“We can’t just say we will carry on as usual and expect the situation to change. We have to look quite creatively at what has worked in other places. Perhaps none will be suitable, but we would be failing in our duty if we didn’t look.”

Transport and environment convener Cllr Lesley Hinds praised the Evening News’ Dish the Dirt campaign and said there had been a major change in public attitudes on dog fouling.

“Campaigns like the Evening News’ have been successful and most people now believe it is unacceptable to allow their dog to foul and not clean it up. But there is a minority who still do not pick up and the issue is how we deal with that minority.

“The number of complaints is going down, but people’s perception is that dog fouling is still a problem.”

She said the council was already taking a wide variety of measures and officials had been asked to look at what was done elsewhere.

“People all over the world have different initiatives and we’re willing to take a look at different ways,” she said.

“Some ideas might be ones we could take up, others might not be suitable for Edinburgh.”

PAINT, FLAGS AND SURPRISES IN THE POST: HOW THE WORLD TACKLES THE ISSUE

In Taiwan, residents of New Taipei City were offered a lottery ticket for every bag of dog mess they handed in. Officials collected 14,500 bags, halving the amount left in the city.

In Flintshire, the council’s free Doggy Do smartphone app allows people to report dog fouling and send pictures along with details of the exact location.

Some councils opted to leave the mess in situ and spray it a bright colour to highlight the problem. In Dorset, the deposits were painted bright green, while Gloucestershire favoured orange and West Dunbartonshire bright pink.

In Boston, Lincolnshire, little flags have been left with “humorous and caustic” messages, including “Irresponsible dog owner woz ‘ere”. Barking and Dagenham Council in London recently revealed it would become the first UK local authority to use DNA testing as an enforcement method.

Samples will be collected from animals by swab, officials said, and the dog’s profile added to a registry.

Burnley Council in Lancashire has been encouraging people to report dog fouling online, giving away tablet computers as an incentive to sign up.

And a small town in Spain enlisted volunteers to identify antisocial dog owners and the offending material was then returned to them in a box bearing the town insignia, marked “lost property”.

• ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com