Published: 00:01, 05 September 2017
Dog walkers not carrying at least two bags to pick up after their pets face being fined under tough new council rules.
Details of a crackdown on the social menace were announced this week as it emerged Canterbury City Council has failed to fine a single offender in the past two years.
Startling figures reveal the authority has not ticketed anyone since 2014/15, when just one dog owner was landed with a £70 penalty.
But the council says it hopes to “have found a solution” in the shape of new public space protection orders, which come into force in early October.
Their introduction will see dog walkers fined for not carrying at least two bags to pick up their pet’s mess.
But leading animal charity, The Dogs’ Trust says it is “deeply concerned” about the new rules, which it claims are “a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”
Council spokesman Leo Whitlock said: “The difficulty has been the need to catch perpetrators in the act, but we hope we have found a solution.
“The new orders still require dog owners to clear up after their pets and owners will be liable to a fixed £80 penalty notice if they do not.
“However, the new order will also require dog owners to demonstrate they have the appropriate means to clean up. If they do not, they will be liable to a fixed penalty notice.
“As a rule of thumb, our enforcement officers would expect responsible dog owners to carry at least two bags that can be used to dispose of dog excrement.
“In reality, responsible dog owners already do this. Many clear up after other people’s dogs too so that all owners are not tarred by the same brush.”
Mr Whitlock assures that the new rules will be “policed sensibly” by enforcement officers, but adds problem areas and offenders will be targeted.
But Dogs Trust Campaigns Officer Lee Paris said: “We are deeply concerned about fining dog owners who don’t carry at least two poo bags when walking their dog.
“Everyone wants to enjoy public spaces free from dog excrement however this law is very much using a sledgehammer to crack a nut and is punishing the masses for the actions of a few.
"Encouraging dog owners to pick up after their dog is something Dogs Trust continues to campaign for and we welcome any initiative introduced by a local authority to discourage dog fouling.
"However, we believe education and the encouragement of responsible dog ownership is much more effective that handing out fines, specifically if dog owners are confused and unware of the PSPO.”
But Claire Tabony, of Whitstable-based dog care centre Kindergarten K9, has welcomed the new rules.
“I can see how difficult it is to police those who don’t pick up after their dogs, because you have to have the proof. But these new rules should be easier to enforce, and will hopefully go some way to making sure people have what they need to act responsibly.
“It’s pretty easy just to put a few extra in your pocket before you go out. You wouldn’t go out with a young child without packing a bag full of what you need, so why should it be different with a dog?”
Dog fouling problems can be reported at Serco's website.
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