Published: 14:00, 14 September 2018
Council bosses who promised a crackdown on dog fouling a year ago have admitted they have not issued a single fine since using ‘tough’ new powers.
In September last year, Canterbury City Council announced dog walkers who could not prove they were carrying two bags to clear up after their pets faced on-the-spot £80 penalties.
But now, it has emerged not a single walker has been fined, with the council unable to say how many - if any - had even been asked to show they had bags.
The new rules were introduced after it emerged the authority had not fined anyone for dog fouling since 2014/15 - despite the issue causing widespread complaints.
The council says it always intended to use the new powers “sparingly” and its primary aim was to educate owners, but critics say it makes no sense to have rules you do not enforce.
Cllr Nick Eden-Green (Lib Dem), said: “It doesn’t surprise me in the least, because all sorts of rules seem to be being brought in which aren’t being enforced, particularly in the area of graffiti, for example.
“It would be much better to crack down on anyone who fails to clear after their dog in the first place. I can’t think that in Western society we would tolerate human beings depositing their waste in streets.”
“Dog mess carries diseases. If you are going to own a pet, then you should take responsibility for that pet.”
Jan Pahl, chairman of the Canterbury Society, says that while dog fouling is “disgusting”, it would be wrong for valuable public resources to be spent on asking if walkers are carrying enough bags.
She said: “There’s a lot of other things that more urgently need enforcing this city, like not looking after historic houses, or people dealing in drugs, and graffiti, rather than whether people have two bags in their pocket for dog poo.
“That seems a bit ludicrous really, to think resources should go into that. The police haven’t got the resources to police Dane John Gardens at night.”
Under the new public space protection orders, pet owners are required upon request to show council-authorised officers they have the “suitable” means to pick up after their dogs.
But Tanya Lehane, who has run Canterbury-based dog walking business Walkeez for seven years, says she has never come across such an officer.
“I can’t see myself how it could be enforced,” she said. “If someone got stopped, they could have used their bag already.”
“I do think that you should pick up after your dog, it’s disgusting when people don’t.
“But I have never come across anybody who is watching people, and we go to a lot of dog-walking areas.”
City council spokesman Leo Whitlock said: “We always said we would use the provision sensibly and sparingly, it would be a great opportunity for enforcement officers to engage with the dog walking community, and was never aimed at responsible owners who make up the overwhelming majority,” he said.
“It is also a tool to help us target persistent offenders or take action in areas suffering a particular problem with dog poo.”
Asked how many dog fouling fines had been issued in the last year, the council was not able to provide specific figures.
It could only say that 15 fines had been issued to those breaching dog control notices, which also covers those off leads and in prohibited areas.
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