- Dog walkers caught without a bag to clear up pets' mess face £100 fines
- Measure has been introduced after public outrage over negligent owners
- Dog waste in public places poses a serious health risk to young children
Dog walkers caught without a bag to clear up their pets' mess face £100 on-the-spot fines under a new law.
The measure has been introduced after public outrage over negligent owners allowing their dogs to foul public areas.
Dog waste has become a widespread nuisance in parks and beaches and poses a serious health risk, particularly to young children.
Dog walkers caught without a bag to clear up their pets' mess will face £100 on-the-spot fines
Under the new rules, offenders who fail to pay the £100 within seven days face prosecution in a magistrates' court and a fine of up to £1,000.
The new measure is being adopted under a law passed last year, the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime And Policing Act, which empowers councils to create a Public Space Protection Order to tackle problems linked to dogs, litter, alcohol or any other local scourge. The fines are given out by dog wardens or other council enforcement officials.
They can already fine persistent offenders who allow dogs to foul public spaces or leave bags of waste on park benches or hanging on trees, but the new offence targets owners guilty of 'failing to have the means to pick up after your dog'.
Daventry District Council in Northamptonshire will be the first area in the country to put the new rules into force, and they may soon be adopted by councils nationwide.
The council serves a community of just under 80,000 and receives 120 formal complaints a year about dog waste in public spaces.
Environmental health manager Paul Knight said the figure was 'the tip of the iceberg', with most complaints going to parish councils. He added: 'We have a number of hotspot areas. They tend to be quieter places where people are not seen or where they walk their dogs at night.
'We are anxious to tackle the problem on footpaths near schools, and if we get public support our enforcement officers will have the confidence to take action against culprits.'
Daventry (pictured), in Northamptonshire, will be the first town to introduce the new fines later this year
The council plans to introduce the new fines later this year after consulting residents in the town of Daventry and 80 surrounding villages.
Mr Knight said: 'We want officers to talk to dog owners informally at first. We may also give out bags. But if a dog warden has advised the same person a number of times and they are still leaving dog mess, then they would get a fixed-penalty notice that will have to be paid within seven days. Failure to do so could result in a court prosecution and £1,000 fine.
'Other council enforcement officers will be involved and we expect members of the public will also report offenders to us.'
However, some dog owners object to the new rules, saying that someone found without a bag after they had already used it and disposed of it responsibly may be liable to a fine.
Laura Vallance, from the Dogs Trust, said: 'We'd rather see time and resources spent on tackling irresponsible dog owners who are behaving in an anti-social way.'
Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko said: 'We would definitely support an education campaign before the new rule is implemented so that dog owners are aware of the plans and can ensure they have an excess supply of dog-waste bags with them.'