Dog fouling in public areas is not a pleasant subject. It is unpleasant to look at, smells and attracts flies. It is nearly always the case that environmental surveys or questionnaires reveal dog fouling to be a major if not the main concern to local residents.
Dog waste is associated with a number of diseases including toxicarasis. Toxocara is a roundworm commonly found in dogs, and almost all puppies. Eggs from the roundworm are found in dog waste, where they can pose a health risk if eaten, particularly to small children.
The parasite can cause stomach upsets, sore throats, asthma and in some cases blindness. The eggs remain active in the soil for years, long after any dog waste has weathered away, so the risk isn't always obvious.
The Council employs 3 full time dog wardens who regularly patrol the county investigating complaints of fouling and visiting areas where dog walkers are known to frequent.
What is the legal requirement regarding dog fouling?
The Dogs (fouling of Land) Act 1996 covers the whole of Pembrokeshire and involves any land within the county to which the public has access either for free or as a result of paying for entry.
This act requires that any person in control of a dog cleans up after their dog Forthwith if the dog fouls land to which the public have access.
Forthwith is interpreted as meaning immediately. Accordingly to comply with this requirement you would have to go prepared to clean up after your dog, which means that you would have to carry a bag, scoop or some other device to enable you to clean up immediately after the dog in your control.
An offence is committed if a person fails to clean up immediately after their dog fouls. It is no defence to claim that it was your intention to return to clean up after your dog.
What are the penalties for dog fouling?
A fixed penalty ticket which involves a fine of £75 may be issued by one of the Dog Wardens or where sound evidence is provided by way of Witness Statements.
Failure to pay the fixed penalty ticket may result in the matter being considered for prosecution in the Magistrates Courts where a maximum fine of £1,000 may be applied.
Where does the money from the fixed penalties go?
Any revenue received from the issue of dog fouling fixed penalty notices is made available to the Council to use for educational programmes and initiatives involving dog control matters.
What can I do if dog fouling is a problem in the area where I live?
The council are eager to receive complaint in relation to dog fouling and will investigate such complaints fully. All complaints are dealt with in total confidence and your details would not be revealed to anyone.
Fill out the Dog Fouling Report Form.
The dog wardens would visit or write to the person who was the subject of the complaint with the initial approach being advisory and informal. If the identity of the dog owner is not known then patrols of the area would be undertaken at times when fouling was thought to occur.
As a dog owner how can I avoid paying a penalty if I'm out with my dog?
Quite simply all you need to do is pick up any waste from you dog immediately and dispose of it accordingly.
What if there are no signs informing me to pick up my dogs' waste?
Whilst the Council will always endeavour to provide appropriate signage, you are still required to pick up any waste from your dog regardless of whether signs are in place or not, Ignorance of the law is not a defence.
What can I use to pick up waste?
Any waste from your dog can be picked up using a poop-scoop, a special dog waste bag or for that matter any plastic bag. Please ensure that when placed in a bin any bags used for cleaning waste from your dog are tied securely.
What if there are no bins nearby?
In this case you would be required to retain the bagged waste and dispose of it in your own domestic waste or when an appropriate bin is present.
Would I be responsible if I'm walking somebody else's dog that fouls?
Under the law anyone in control of a dog, whether it is their own dog or someone else's, must ensure that they clear up after it and would therefore be responsible in law should they fail to clear any waste up.
What can I do if I know of somebody who doesn't clean up after his or her dog?
In this instance contact the Dog Control service. We are eager to hear from anyone who has witnessed someone failing to clean up after their dog.
The council will consider issuing fixed penalty notices on the basis of formal witness statements from members of the public. For this to happen the evidence would have to be robust and sufficient to stand up to scrutiny, if need be, in the magistrates court.
It would only be in this scenario, i.e. a court hearing, that the identity of a complaint may have to be revealed.
Can the wardens provide dog fouling signs and bins?
The Dog Control Team will arrange for signs to be put up on request from the public in areas where dog fouling is known to be a problem. There is no statutory requirement to display dog fouling signs other than in connection with dog control orders made under the provisions of The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. Accordingly this aspect of the team's work is subject to the availability of resources
Requests for additional bins which would be used for both dog and general waste would be referred to the area maintenance teams for consideration