Redbridge Council is cracking down on irresponsible dog owners following an increase in public complaints about dog fouling and uncontrolled dogs. Council Officer Jo Smallman reports
As well as complaints about dogs not on leads, last year, nearly 800 reports were made to the council, up from the previous year, over people failing to pick up after their dogs and instead letting their pooches foul public spaces.
The increase has sparked a council-led campaign aimed at dog owners, as well as the use of specialist cameras by the council’s enforcement team to catch offenders.
A dog control Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) is also currently in place in the borough covering several areas of dog control, including ensuring dogs are on leads and the maximum number of dogs allowed under one handler in locations where the PSPO applies. Under the PSPO, it is also an offence for anyone in charge of a dog to foul land in the borough by failing to clear up their dog’s mess. Offenders can be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice of up to £100, and if the case goes to court, it could cost the owner, or person in charge of the animal, up to £1,000.
While the majority of dog owners clear up after their dogs when walking them in the borough, a minority are still breaking the law by failing to do so and causing problems for the public.
So, the council recently launched a boroughwide campaign encouraging dog owners to be ‘Proud to Pick Up’. As part of the campaign, signage has been placed in parks and on more than 200 litter bins around the borough reminding dog owners they can dispose of bagged dog mess in any public street litter bin in Redbridge. Anyone unable to find a bin near them should take their dog waste home and put it in their own waste bin.
The council’s enforcement team are also using specialist cameras that can be easily deployed in hot-spot areas to help catch offending dog owners, with clips being shared on Redbridge’s ‘Wall of Shame’, which regularly features footage of people committing environmental crimes across the borough and encourages the public to come forward if they can help identify any of the lawbreakers.
Dog fouling is not only deeply unpleasant and unsightly; it can also be dangerous. Whilst rare, contact with dog excrement can cause toxocariasis – a nasty infection that can lead to dizziness, nausea, asthma and even seizures or blindness (at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London, about 20 to 30 patients with retinal damage from toxocariasis are treated annually). Another reason to keep it off our streets.
The law states that being unaware a dog has fouled or not having a suitable bag is not a reasonable excuse to leave dog mess behind.
To report dog fouling in Redbridge, visit wnstd.com/dogfouling
For more information on the dog control PSPO, visit wnstd.com/dogpspo