New laws compelling dog owners to clean up after their pets and keep them under control in public places are on the cards.
The dog control orders will see pet owners face fines of up to £1,000 in a magistrates’ court or fixed penalty notices of £75 for anti-social pet behaviour.
Four orders have been approved in principle by Ribble Valley BoroughCouncil’s community services committee following complaints from sports teams that they have to clear playing fields of dog faeces before using them. The orders are now be the subject of a 13-week public consultation with a view to becoming law by next spring.
They will require dog owners to remove dog faeces from public land and playing fields, keep their dogs on leads when instructed to do so by a dog enforcement officer and prohibit dogs from enclosed sports pitches and children’s playgrounds.
Ribble Valley Council’s head of environmental health, James Russell, said: “It is everyone’s responsibility to take pride in the borough and keep it clean and safe.
“Unfortunately, the minority of irresponsible dog owners who refuse to clean up or take control of their dogs are spoiling it for everyone else.
“The council receives hundreds of complaints about dog issues each year and the new orders will enable us to deal with these offences more effectively.
“They will also give our dog enforcement officers greater powers to deal with offenders in-situ.”
“Irresponsible dog owners will no longer be able to use ignorance as an excuse for not controlling their pets and the message is simple: The days of allowing dogs to foul in public are over, so pick up your pet mess everywhere, every time.”
Ribble Valley Borough Council receives 200 complaints about dog fouling and spends £30,000 disposing of it each year.
Dog faeces take two months to break down and can give humans toxocariasis, which can cause breathing difficulties, a very red and painful eye, or clouded vision, usually only in one eye. Left untreated, it can result in permanent loss of vision in the affected eye.
James Russell added: “Toxocariasis is an awful condition that can leave children permanently blind, but the disease can be controlled if dog faeces are disposed of immediately in a responsible manner.
“Regular worming of dogs can also help reduce the problem, as well as washing hands after handling animals or soil and before touching food.
“Dog owners have no excuse for exposing young children to the risk of this disease and must pick up their pet mess.”
To report dog fouling or for further information, contact Ribble Valley Borough Council on 01200 425111.