Calling time on scourge of dog fouling

Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Council, Councillor Paul Reid, pictured at the Green Dog Walkers initiative at Sentry Hill on Friday along with Elaine Thompson (with Jasper), Sinead Sargent and Nigel Devine.
Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Council, Councillor Paul Reid, pictured at the Green Dog Walkers initiative at Sentry Hill on Friday along with Elaine Thompson (with Jasper), Sinead Sargent and Nigel Devine.

A new initiative aimed at tackling the scourge of dog fouling in the borough is set to get underway later this month.

Dog owners who fail to pick up after their pets are being warned they could soon fall ‘foul’ of the new Green Dog Walkers Initiative.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Paul Reid, said the scheme is all about changing attitudes, in a non-confrontational and friendly way to encourage dog walkers to clean up after their pets.

“Volunteers are encouraged to take a pledge to always clean up after their pets, carry extra dog waste bags, be happy to provide other dog walkers with waste bags and highlight any problem areas to council,” Cllr. Reid said.

He added: “The initiative is another example of council’s commitment to protecting and enhancing an attractive, safe and sustainable environment.

“The majority of dog walkers in the area are responsible owners, but dog fouling remains one of the most complained-about environmental issues throughout the Borough.”

Those who sign up to the scheme will be issued with Council-branded materials, including poop scoop bags and special leads and collars for their four-legged friends.

Dog fouling is one of the most complained about environmental issues in the Borough and across the whole of the UK.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Enforcement Officers received 307 dog fouling complaints in 2015/16, equal to eight percent of the total service requests received by Environmental Health.

Cllr. Reid added: “We regularly remind dog owners of their obligations and appeal to them to help us tackle the scourge of dog mess in our public spaces.

“We also want members of the public to contact us with any information regarding concerns they have about dog fouling. Every report or complaint Council receives is investigated.

“We thank all those dog owners who are responsible and keep our streets and footpaths clean and safe.”

The Green Dog Walkers Initiative was was first piloted by Falkirk Council and has proved hugely successful in reducing issues around dog fouling in other areas.

It has previously been cited by the Association for Public Service Excellence as an example of good practice and has been rolled out by other councils in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland.

The scheme is expected to come into effect in Mid and East Antrim later this month.

Council officers will be visiting community events and popular dog walking spots over the coming months to raise awareness and encourage the public to participate in the scheme.

School pupils will also receive information and education on responsible dog ownership.

Anybody who allows their dog to foul in public and fails to pick it up could be given an £80 on-the-spot fine. Failure to pay could result in court action.

For details on becoming a Green Dog Walker, or if you have any queries regarding dog fouling, please contact the Senior Enforcement Officer at Mid and East Antrim Environmental Health Office on 028 25 633120 or email greendogwalkers@midandeastantrim.gov.uk