High numbers of stray dogs in the area have been blamed for the problem of dog fouling in a defence by the Director of Environmental Services against claims that his department are not taking the issue seriously.
The comments came in light a revelation that over the past 12 months only two Fixed Penalty Notices (£50 fine) had been issued for the specific offence of dog fouling whereby an Officer had witnessed a dog fouling in a public place and the owner had walked on without lifting it. One case was pending prosecution through Court for failure to pay said Fixed Penalty Notice.
Councillor Joan Baird had made the request for the exact number of enforcement cases brought against those who permitted their dog to foul in public without cleaning it up over the past year, as she felt it imperative that members be informed of what action had been taken so they could help alleviate the growing concerns of residents.
David Lindsay defended his position saying the vast majority of dog owners within the district were believed to be responsible and did clean up after their pets, but that stray and abandoned dogs were actually creating a bigger problem than owners not cleaning up after their dog.
Mr Lindsay said: “It only takes a small number of uncontrolled dogs to create a significant dog fouling problem.
“Over the same 12 month period a total of 63 Fixed Penalty Notices (£75 fine) had been issued for dog straying.
“If an owner allowed their dog to stray or a dog was abandoned it would inevitably contribute to a dog fouling problem in a public place, and officers believed that was actually creating a bigger problem than a dog walker not picking up after their pet.”
Mr Lindsay added: “Over the last 12 months, a total of 120 complaints had been received. From those complaints, 63 Fixed Penalty Notices had been served for dog straying. Despite its relatively small population, Banbridge District Council has issued the second hightest number of fixed penalties amongst all 26 Councils, for dog straying offences”.
Councillor Ian Curran reiterated the point that a multi-agency approach was required to effectively tackle the issue.
Suggesting that statistics be gathered from other Councils in order to highlight the extent of the problem, Councillor Curran said: “It is unrealistic to expect the Environmental Health Department to deal with the issue of dog fouling single-handedly.
Environmental Services will be taking steps to help reassure the public that they are proactive on the matter.