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Deeds of the darkness: dog poo problems increase at onset of winter

06 Dec 2023 3 minute read
Image: Andrew Becraft

A Welsh council is kicking up a stink over “reckless and selfish” dog owners who fail to pick up their pet’s poo while hiding behind the cover of dark rainy nights.

Cyngor Gwynedd says the problem of dog dirt on the county’s street gets worse at the beginning of winter, when owners feel less worried about being caught in the act.

The council has recently handed out a number of financial penalties to members of the public who failed to pick up after their pooches.

Responsibility of owners

In accordance with the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, the council has the power to prosecute owners who allow their dogs to foul in public places. It can also result in an on-the-spot penalty of £100 or £1,000 if the case is pursued and found guilty by the courts.

The council is now reminding dog owners of their responsibility to clean up after their animals. It states that council staff are responsible for keeping the streets clean within the county’s towns, villages and estates, but it is the responsibility of dog owners to pick up pet poo.

Not only is an environmental offence and nuisance, in rare cases exposure to dog excrement can also lead to serious illness such as toxocariasis which can cause breathing difficulties and blindness.

Offenders who don’t ‘bag and bin’ responsibly, using a public bin or their own wheelie bin at home, could face a financial penalty or prosecution.

Councillor Berwyn Parry Jones, Cyngor Gwynedd’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for the Council’s Street Services, said: “Dog poo on the pavement and in playing fields is an issue that is still raised by the public all the time. It’s awful when someone treads in it, it’s carried into their home, into a school or a shop on their shoes.”

“I hear from parents who have accidentally got dog poo into the tread of their baby buggy or wheels of children’s scooters. Unfortunately, we tend to see the problem get worse at the beginning of winter.

“My message is clear to dog owners is – just because it’s dark or rainy it’s no excuse for not stopping for a moment to pick your dog’s mess up while you’re out on a walk.”

Poo bags

Councillor Jones added: “More people than ever are now dog-owners, we are extremely grateful to the vast majority who take their responsibility to their community seriously by carrying poop-bags every time they go for a walk and picking up after their dog. But a small minority causes problems for everyone.

“There is no excuse, especially as free bags are available from the Council at the three Siop Gwynedd offices ( Caernarfon, Dolgellau, Pwllheli ) and from every library in the county.”

He added that if a member of the public had evidence that someone is allowing their dog to foul in a public place, with no attempt to clear up, they can contact the Council for officers to investigate.

Calls from the public will be “handled discreetly and in confidence”.

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