Steps are being taken in South Lakeland to tackle the problem of dog fouling.
EVERY day the UK’s dogs produce around 1,000 tonnes of excrement.
This, on the whole, is picked up and disposed of by responsible dog walkers. but sadly, some also ends up littering pavements and public areas – including land outside Sandside Lodge School at Ulverston.
Sick of side-stepping the problem, which was being picked up by wheelchairs and buggies on one of the main routes from the town centre to Canal Foot, pupils, staff and parents vowed to take action.
“It’s rare for us to now have any problems with dog fouling,” said the headteacher of Sandside School, Susan Gill.
“It all seemed to come together and we got a huge improvement.”
Pupils raised concerns about dog fouling at a school council meeting and wrote letters and designed and sent out posters, which highlighted the issue.
They conducted random surveys, which collated the numbers of dog fouling incidents, and sent their findings on to support their letters.
As a result, South Lakeland District Council sent out officers to survey the area, signs were put in place and officers now continue to patrol the area.
It has had an ‘impressive’ result, according to an SLDC spokesman, and dog fouling around the school has ‘dramatically decreased’.
“It was vital that we had a successful outcome,” continued Ms Gill. “It’s been hugely effective and it’s really improved the entrance area to our school for staff, parents, pupils and visitors.”
The efforts of pupils were also hailed by Councillor Sue Sanderson, portfolio holder for Environment and People, who said pupils did ‘a great job’ in raising awareness of the issue.
“It has had a remarkable result,” she added.
But the concept of educating dog owners is not alien to South Lakeland District Council, which works with neighbourhood enforcement officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) to adopt this type of approach.
Officers respond and follow up on all complaints regarding dog fouling, which could then see them visit and patrol an area, arrange for an affected area to be cleansed, speak to and advise members of the public or install relevant signs at key locations.
SLDC also brought in four Dog Control Orders after a ‘Clean Streets’ consultation project with residents and community groups.
The orders cover dog fouling and dog exclusion zones, such as play areas and sports pitches.
Owners may be asked by officers or PCSOs to put their dogs on leads if they are causing a nuisance and owners are required to keep their dogs on a lead if they are in a public place within 10 metres of a road with a 30mph speed limit.
Last week the Gazette reported that no fines had yet been issued since the council crackdown began – and Coun Sanderson believes this is because the emphasis has been on ‘discouraging dog fouling’.
Now, say officers, communication between the council, the public and PCSOs is ‘vital’ if owners are to be dealt with in ‘an appropriate manner’.
“If a member of the public has concerns about dog fouling or dog control, it is important that they communicate as many details as possible in order for us to deal with and resolve the issue,” said SLDC neighbourhood enforcement officer, Mark Harris.
“These details should include locations, descriptions and times.”
Dog fouling can pose a risk to public health.
According to Keep Britain Tidy, dog mess can cause illnesses including ‘toxocariasis’, which can lead to blindness, asthma, seizures, dizziness and nausea.
“Some dog owners still fail to clean up after their dogs and the highest level of dog fouling can be found in areas where people actually live,” said a spokesman for the charity, which recently carried out a survey of over 10,000 sites and found dog fouling was present on seven per cent of them.
It is most common among children under the age of five and infected soil samples are often found in play areas.
“It’s so important that people clean up dog mess,” said Coun Graham Vincent, SLDC portfolio holder for health and wellbeing.
“Dogs can carry E.Coli and salmonella, as well as the worst one, which is toxocariasis.
“It can cause blindness and other complications and that’s a terrible thing to inflict on someone.”
Toxocariasis is caused by the roundworm ‘toxocara canis’, which can be found in soil or sand contaminated with dog mess.
If swallowed, the infection can last between six and 24 months.
Delivering the message
A SERIES of events is to be
held throughout April and May, when SLDC officers will be on hand to remind owners of the responsibilities of dog ownership and giving advice about control orders.
Representatives from Milnthorpe Kennels and the Dogs Trust will also be on hand to offer guidance.
The events will take place at the following times and venues:
* Thursday, April 17, 11am-3pm, Croftslands Community Centre, Ulverston
* Tuesday, April 22, 11am-3pm, The Glebe, Bowness
* Thursday, April 24, 11am-3pm, Castle Drive, Kendal Castle
* Tuesday, May 20, 11am-3pm, Hallgarth Community Centre, Kendal
Anyone who feels there is a dog fouling issue in their area can report it to SLDC on 0845 050 4434.