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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

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Early-bird wardens catch Workington dog fouling culprits

On a cold, grey morning with the birds still singing in the trees, Allerdale council’s environmental wardens and street scene officers pound the pavements in a bid to rid the streets of dog mess.

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OPERATION CLEAN-UP: Bob Henderson, Allerdale Borough Council locality officer, posts notices reminding people to clean up after their dogs on the railway line footpath at Seaton

There is no cosy lie-in for the officers who begin their patrols at 6.30am.

Allerdale council began a crackdown on dog fouling at the start of April and vowed to take a zero tolerance approach to irresponsible dog owners.

The officers can hand out fixed penalty notices of £75 to anyone who allows their dogs to foul in a public place.

Helen Graham has been an environmental warden for 12 years and spent some time patrolling Seaton cycle path and Northside.

She said: “It is cleaner since we started this operation, especially on the cycleways, and it helps that there are more of us who can issue the fixed penalties now so there is more support there.

“The hardest thing about it is catching them because we have to actually see the dog do it before we can fine the owner.”

Only 20 minutes into the patrol and Helen issues a fixed penalty notice to the owner of a Staffordshire bull terrier which fouled on grass very close to a school playground.

She said: “His reaction was okay.

“He said he didn’t realise that the dog had fouled but he didn’t have any bags on him either.

“He took it quite graciously and most of them do.

“Most of the people that do get angry is through embarrassment more than anything and once you have talked to them for a bit they calm down.”

Today is bitterly cold but the enforcement officers have to face all weathers to try to catch thoughtless owners who let their dogs soil the area’s footpaths and cycle ways.

Helen said that the amount of dog fouling on Seaton cycle path had reduced by more than half since the start of the crack down.

After an hour-and-a-half in Seaton, the officers move on to Northside where Helen hands out another fixed penalty notice around 8.10am on the cycle path.

Helen gives regular feedback on her patrols to parish councils and visits schools to teach pupils about being responsible dog owners in the hope that they will pass this on to their parents.

She said: “Working in partnership with the community is what we need.

“I try to get the message out through the parish councils and schools that we need people to report the irresponsible dog owners.”

Dog fouling is just one element of the environmental warden’s role and today Helen started at 5.15am with a noise nuisance assessment.

Environmental wardens deal with a range of issues including abandoned vehicles, stray dogs, animal welfare issues and fly tipping.

Before the zero-tolerance approach to dog fouling began, only the council’s two environmental wardens could issue the fixed penalty notices.

As part of the scheme, five street scene officers completed training to allow them to also issue the fixed penalty notices.

Bob Henderson, Allerdale locality officer, said: “We have found it much more effective to target areas with groups of officers.

“After this initial crack down is over they will target problem areas at least once a week and will spend 20 per cent of their time dedicated to dog fouling enforcement.

“When they are doing the enforcement it is having a positive effect on people’s attitudes because they can see that we are doing things and we are getting a good rapport with the responsible dog owners.

“What we really need is people to give us information about where and when people are letting their dogs foul.

“People are getting more comfortable with passing on the information and it means we can be more efficient.”

The environmental wardens and street scene officers work in groups and communicate with each other to try to catch as many irresponsible dog owners as possible.

Some of the areas they have been targeting recently include Northside, Cockermouth cycle way, Sandy Lonning and the prom in Maryport, The Went in Dearham, and the cycle way in Keswick.

Bob said: “Focsa clean in these areas and they report back on how much dog mess they pick up and that is trending down so the streets are cleaner.

“The other thing we are measuring is that we grade each area on how much dog mess there is and that is trending down too so there are much less areas that we class as heavy dog fouling so that is improving.

“It is an awareness thing and I think it is safe to say that people in this area know we are here and what we are doing. We are getting much more positive comments.”

To report dog fouling, visit www.allerdale.gov.uk/dogfouling, email customer. service@allerdale.gov.uk or call 01900 702800.

Have your say

Looks like I'll have to get up earlier and let my dog foul before 6.30am. Fancy putting the time they start on the net. Who writes these articles? I think it's a great idea. Dog poo is a real bio hazard to young children and adults who don't wash their hands. Do the right thing people, it's not hard if you take your dog out take take a plastic bag and pick up its poo. Cheap handwarmers!!

Posted by Mikey on 22 May 2012 at 22:28

The thing is Newby, you are wholly wrong about dog poo containing "things" which "cause blindness". I've said before, it's only dog poo from a dog not wormed, with a certain type of parasite which, if applied directly to an eyeball would cause a problem. Granted a child falling, putting their hand in it then putting their hand in their eye IF it is infected poo would have a problem. However, it is extremely rare. Anyway, horse poo attracts flies which may well have walked on infected dog poo so lets not get into the realms of silliness now. Poo is poo, and it's unpleasant and should be cleaned up but you won't get full compliance. I would rather clean up after any animal than members of our own species who leave the pavements in a far worse state after a night on the tiles. What about a "clean up your vomit" campaign? No, that's clearly silly I guess! Let's carry one picking on dogs then.

Posted by jay on 22 May 2012 at 17:18

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