When a person takes on the responsibility of a dog, they must understand that this comes with many different facets, some of which are less pleasant than others but all just as important. As well as feeding the dog, playing with it, and making sure it always has fresh water, the dog owner is responsible for clearing up their dog’s poo when they take it out on public footpaths or fields. Despite this, many dog owners feel it is okay to leave this unhygienic, hazardous mess in situ and not realise that it poses a risk to others who want to enjoy the public space. The health risks this poses to others, especially young children are prone to falling over or stepping in it, are great; it is for this reason that there are dog fouling penalties and laws across the country.
What the council can do
Councils have the ability to issue fixed penalty orders, which is usually set around the £100 mark. This can be escalated and taken further if this initial fine isn’t paid. This, however, is dependent on a witness seeing the dog owner leaving their dog’s mess behind. New laws, in Northamptonshire, are looking to take this a step further. The council here is suggesting that a dog owner who does not have any means to collect their dog foul, could be given a £100 initial fine. This means that if the dog warden finds the owner not carrying a ‘poop bag’ or other suitable container, they will be given the power to fine the person, even without their dog committing any offense. This can then be further escalated to a £1000 fine and court appearance if the person fails to pay the initial fine.
Naturally, a law such as this doesn’t come without controversy. There are many responsible dog owners who feel that they will be made to feel like criminals as the dog wardens have the power to stop and question them whilst they are simply giving their dog much needed exercise. On the other hand, dog fouling is a major problem in many residential areas and this law will be welcomed by all those who have suffered at the hands of dog poop just outside their homes, or on their shoes after a walk in the countryside. This law will currently undergo a consultation period; despite its controversy dog lovers who have been subject to irresponsible owners, will all agree that the pavements and public footpaths would be a much more pleasant place for all without this ‘mess’.