Dog fouling is a major issue for many of our towns and cities. It is the most offensive type of litter on our streets and it is consistently raised as a public concern.
What is dog fouling?
In 2010 the UK dog population was estimated to be 8 million, with dogs producing approximately 1,000 tonnes of excrement each day. In a recent survey of over 10,000 sites dog fouling was present on 7% of these sites. Some dog owners still fail to clean up after their dogs and the highest level of dog fouling can be found in areas where people actually live.
Why is dog fouling a problem?
Although Keep Britain Tidy has recorded a reduction in overall levels of dog fouling since 2001/02, it is still a significant cause of offence amongst the public.
Dog fouling is not only unpleasant it is dangerous. The biggest threat to public health from dog excrement is toxocariasis.
What is Toxocariasis?
Toxocariasis is an infection of the roundworm toxocara canis. The eggs of the parasite can be found in soil or sand contaminated with faeces and if swallowed, result in infection that lasts between six and 24 months. Symptoms include eye disorders, vague ache, dizziness, nausea, asthma and, in extremely rare cases, seizures/fits. Often the eggs are ingested when passed to the mouth by the hands, but this can also occur through contact with dogs or other inanimate objects including the wheels of toys and the soles of shoes. Infected soil samples are often found in play areas and as a result, Toxocariasis most commonly affects children between 18 months and five years.
Whose responsibility is it to clear away dog fouling?
It is the the responsibility of the dog owner or the person in charge of the dog to clear up any dog foul left by their dog. If you fail to clean up after your dog you can be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice, or if the case goes to court a fine of up to £1,000.
The regulations state specifically, that being unaware that the dog has fouled, or not having a suitable means of removing the faeces is not a reasonable excuse for failing to clean up after your dog.
If someone fails to clean up after their dog, the council will clear dog fouling from public places that it has a legal responsibility for. Over 90% of councils have dog wardens and over 80% of councils provide dedicated dog waste bins.
What can I do about dog fouling?
Many people find dog fouling offensive and want to do something about it. If you feel strongly that dog fouling should not be tolerated on our streets why not sign up as a Keep Britain Tidy supporter and show that you are committed to tackling the issue of dog fouling. We will keep you updated on everything we are doing to put an end to dog mess on our streets and let you know about all other relevant work. We also have some posters that you can put up locally. View and order your free posters.
If you are with someone you know and they allow their dog to foul you may feel safe telling them that they shouldn’t. However, if you do not know the person it is important not to confront them if you think that your personal safety might be at risk. Dog wardens are empowered and trained to deal with offenders.
If you have information about a dog fouling you could report it to the police, the local council or a dog warden, but it is up to them to decide whether they wished to proceed any further. Whilst it is possible to take a private prosecution, it would be at a person’s own expense and you will need strong evidence to prove your case in court.
For more information about dog fouling view our Knowledge Bank