CRAFTY dog owners in Ballymena are using the cover of the dark winter nights to avoid scooping their pooches poops.

Streets and pavements around Ballymena and surrounding villages have become hazardous for walking, with dog fouling widespread.

The problem is compounded by the fact that dim visibility increases the chances of pedestrians walking through the un-scooped poop.

Indeed the dirty business has reached the nose of the Deputy Mayor, Ald. James Alexander who raised the matter at last week's Council Meeting.

Ald. Alexander said the shocking level of dog fouling on the Ballymoney Road, posed a real threat to public health.

"I have never seen anything like it, there is dog mess everywhere. It is a total disgrace, that those who own the dogs cannot clean it up."

The playing fields in Ahoghill is another area which has been blighted by dog foul.

Ballymena Dog Warden, Nigel Devine revealed that dog fouling was seasonally affected: "It's the same story every year. We always notice a dramatic increase in the number of dog fouling incidents during the winter months.

"People do not bother to scoop their dog's poop on dark evenings. They take advantage of the darkness, they realise that there is less chance of anyone spotting them.

Nigel expressed his exasperation with the continuing problem: "The Government recently doubled the fine from 25.00 to 50.00, but still there are those who take the chance and don't bother to clean up after their dogs.

"Generally, Ballymena is not a very clean place, when it comes to dog fouling. We have two ROVER machines which clean up dog foul, and they are being kept extremely busy.

"I have even spotted those people who bend down and pretend to scoop the poop, but when the car passes they get up, and leave it lying there.

"I know that it is not a very pleasant thing to have to do, but if you are a dog owner it's something you have to do.

"They need to think about the other people who use the footpaths. They will have no where to hide come the brighter evenings."