Spring launch of dog-fouling campaign

Dog fouling continues to cause concern in the county.
Dog fouling continues to cause concern in the county.

Today sees the spring launch of a popular and innovative dog-fouling campaign – aimed at dog walkers who don’t scoop the poop, which is backed by Northumberland County Council.

More than 55 land managers have now joined forces with national environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy for its ‘We’re watching you’ campaign in a bid to reduce dog fouling in their villages, towns and cities.

The campaign sets its sights on irresponsible dog owners, with recent research showing that dog walkers are more responsible, and pick up after their dogs, when they think that they are being watched. Research suggests that dog fouling tends to occur at night-time and during the months with shorter days, as some dog owners feel that they can’t be seen ‘under the cover of darkness’.

Last year, Keep Britain Tidy conducted a campaign pilot, funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), working with land managers across the country. This pilot saw an average reduction of 46 per cent in the levels of dog fouling. Local authorities that have joined up to the edgy and uncompromising campaign include Northumberland County Council.

The vast majority of dog owners are responsible people, who habitually pick up after their dog and dispose of the poo bags correctly, either in the nearest bin or by taking home to dispose of in their own household waste bin.

Keep Britain Tidy chief executive Phil Barton said: “We are delighted local authorities, land managers and now parish councils from across the country have signed up and are joining with us on this campaign.

“Our most recent research tells us that people see dog fouling as, by far, the most unacceptable and dirtiest type of litter, and the biggest concern in environmental quality. With more than five million dogs in England producing nearly 600,000 tonnes of waste each year, these concerns are understandable. This campaign has been proven to make a difference and encourage the minority of dog owners who don’t pick up after their pets to do the right thing.”

In Northumberland, offenders can be given a £75 fixed-penalty notice. If they refuse to pay, they can be prosecuted and face a court appearance with a maximum penalty of £1,000. Claiming ignorance of the dog’s actions is not a valid defence.

Officers can also recommend that offenders are prosecuted if they become aggressive, refuse to give details, are a repeat offender or if the offence is more serious due to the location.

Complain and report dog fouling on 0845 600 6400 or visit the county council’s website and click on ‘report dog fouling’.