There are estimated to be eight million dogs in the UK. That is a lot of dogs and they drop roughly one thousand tonnes of waste every day. Dog waste is a serious issue and anyone in control of a dog is obliged to pick up their poo in public areas. But the dog fouling laws have not resulted in everyone sticking to the rules.
Dog mess remains a major issue and so local councils are adopting a variety of tactics and instituting new regulations in an attempt to rid public areas of poo. If you own or walk a dog, you need to know what the rules are in your area or any location where you walk the dog.
Wherever you are in the UK you will face a fine of up to £80 of you fail to clean up your dog’s mess and are caught. That fine can rise to £1000 if you refuse to pay and the case is escalated to the courts. But some local authorities have taken things further and are obliging dog walkers to be in possession of poo bags or a scoop. The fines for being found without poo bags vary.
The Dog Fouling Act of 2016 places responsibility on “the person in charge of the dog” at the time of the misdemeanour. So, if the dog you are walking isn’t yours, you are still liable for the fine if you don’t clear up after them.
Those with disabilities that restrict their sight or mobility are exempt from the fines and working dogs are unlikely to be penalised if they poo in a public place. Dog fouling regulations apply in most public places but not on common land, agricultural land and woodland.
As almost 75,000 complaints were made regarding dog mess in scenic spots in 2015 alone, the regulations do not appear to be a particularly effective deterrent. Hence the various new tactics being employed by councils. One local authority is considering using e-fit images of offending dogs in an attempt to identify and then fine the owners. Another is looking at the possibility of deploying drones to monitor canine activity in public areas.
Shaming Dog Walkers
Some councils have attempted to shame owners by spraying dog poo a bright colour. The idea being that the owner’s attention will be drawn to it upon their return. In Dorset, dog mess was painted bright green and Gloucestershire orange paint was used. Elsewhere little flags of the type often seen on sandcastles have been left atop piles of dog poo. In Boston Lincolnshire, these carried little messages to the dog walkers.
It is unclear how effective the painting of poo has been and this is a labour-intensive practice which would be hard to sustain over the longer term.
The Cost of Enforcement
Hydburn Council deployed surveillance vans and wardens equipped with night vision goggles! It has even been suggested that DNA analysis could be used to identify offending dogs. The problem with most of the potential solutions is cost. Local authorities simply don’t have the funds available to properly police their public areas.