With the problem of dog fouling from irresponsible dog owners and walkers showing no signs of decreasing anytime soon. Councils are continuing to look into ever more ingenious/inventive ways of how to deal with the problem of people who refuse to pick up after their dogs.
The Anti-Social Behaviour and Policing Act 2014, gave councils in England and Wales sweeping new powers to help them to deal with virtually any problem behaviour carried out in public places. Whilst dog owners / dog walkers do agree that being fined for not picking up is a reasonable level of punishment, there are some councils who feel more is needed and are trying to take their powers a step further.
Ashfield and Daventry Councils are requesting the power to be able to stop any dog walker to check that they have at least one poo bag in their possession, a failure to produce one would result in an instant £100 fine (or £1,000 if you go to court). But is the production of an unused poo bag an effective way to measure responsible dog ownership, anyone can carry a couple of bags, but does that mean that they actually use them? The Kennel Club has gone on record to say that in their view irresponsible owners would just attach some bags to the lead to avoid a fine but would probably still never use them. The focus really needs to be on the owners who are causing the problem rather than unfairly penalising all responsible dog owners by making them constantly prove their innocence to council officials.
Bigger plans being put forward by Barking (how appropriate) & Dagenham Council is to try to make every dog owner submit their pets DNA, before they can be allowed to be walked outside in certain areas and various dog parks. This suggestion is still in the early planning stages and is currently facing many objections from dog owners who feel that they are being turned into villains just for having a dog. (No one as yet seems to be pushing for the same legislation for cats who foul in gardens or horses who foul our footpaths and roadways).
Stafford Borough Council made the decision in 2015 to issue its undercover dog wardens with night vision goggles to try to catch night time offenders. This story was first reported in the Daily Mail online on the 10th November 2015 and the article highlighted the £200 cost for each device, this decision and council expense was vehemently defended by the local Conservative Councillor who stated this action was “supported by the majority of responsible local dog walkers to get on top of this disgusting crime”. However many local residents interviewed expressed their concerns about this type of behaviour in a residential area as being creepy.
A simple solution for Councils to complete to help resolve the issue would be to provide additional waste bins and to empty the ones that are always over flowing, only recently quite a few dog waste bins were removed in Haxby and Wigginton by York Council. This course of action seems somewhat counter productive as dog walkers in Haxby should be encouraged rather than discouraged by the removal of these waste bins. East Riding Council in opposition are providing dog waste bag and glove dispensers, this seems to be the more sensible approach than some of the current ideas that Councils are trying to get legislated.
I am sure that this debate will rumble on with all responsible dog owners being let down by the irresponsible minority.