Fall in dog fouling protests across Midlothian

editorial image

Midlothian Council believes it is winning the battle against irresponsible dog owners who allow their pets to foul in public places.

In 2011/12 the local authority introduced a zero tolerance approach to dog fouling.

In addition, a Green Dog Walker scheme has been implemented to encourage owners to pick up after their pets.

In a report to a recent cabinet meeting, Mary Smith, director of education, communities and economy, said 15 fixed penalty notices had been issued by environmental health staff to dog owners during 2014/15.

This compares to 24 FPNs in 2012/13 and 25 in 2013/14.

In addition, the council is receiving fewer complaints from members of the public.

There were 115 dog fouling complaints in 2014/15 compared with 290 when the council took its zero tolerance stance.

In her report, Dr Smith said: “During the four year period between 2011/12 and 2014/15 there was a 60 per cent reduction in complaint numbers.

“In real terms the percentage reduction in the levels of complaint per head of population is even greater if the growth in residential propoerties that has taken place over the four year period is condisered.”

The Green Dog Walker scheme, run well by community groups, aims to shift public attitudes so it becomes socially unacceptable to leave dog fouling lying around.

Dr Smith added: “UK research indicated that a typical quote from those who allow dog fouling, includes ‘everyone else is doing it so why not me?’

“Our aim was to conver that opiniion to one of ‘everyone else clears up and so will I’.

“Patrol statistics gathered show that approximately 93 per cent of dog owners pick up.

“It is the seven per cent of irresponsible owners on whom we continue to concentrate our efforts.”

Other efforts used by the council include increasing the frequency of out of hours patrols with early morning and evening patrols as well as weekend. The council has two environmental wardens whose specific duties include dog control but the remainder of environmental health staff are authorised to issue FPNs.

The council provides free dog bags and extra dog fouling bins have been provided at problem locations.

Dr Smith admitted that an increase in dedicated staff to focus on dog control would be “extremely beneficial” but there was no additional cash.

Meanwhile, the council issued 15 dog control notices in 2014/15. Seven were issued the previous year under the Control of Dogs legislation.

The 2010 Act is designed to change the behaviour of owners and dogs before the animal becomes dangerous.