DOG owners in Craven could have to carry waste bags at all times when out with their pets, or risk a fine.

Cllr Richard Welch told a full meeting of CDC he was not ‘anti dog’ but that the authority should adopt a zero tolerance to irresponsible dog owners who failed to clean up after their pets.

The vast majority of dog owners were responsible, he said, but there was a small minority who were not, and the issue of dog waste in both villages and towns was one of the most important for residents, along with litter and plastic waste.

It was very rare, he said, not to be questioned by residents about the issue of dog waste and what the council was going to about it.

“It is a very controversial subject, especially in the winter, when it appears to be worse,” he said.

Cllr Welch said he was not suggesting that the council took a decision to impose a by-law on its own, but to look at other authorities, such as Burnley, which had introduced a local by-law to tackle dog waste, and see how it worked, and if it was successful.

“We are not going to change things overnight. There are not bag dogs, only bad dog owners. When you see people out with one, two or three dogs and they haven’t got a poo-bag, then what are they going to do, the answer is nothing,” he said.

“Most dog owners are responsible, but others are not. I think we should adopt a zero tolerance.”

Cllr Welch’s motion to the council was: “That this council investigates how other councils, including Burnley and Peterborough, have introduced and enforced a local by-law, whereby anyone stopped who is walking a dog and is not carrying a dog waste bag is liable for fine or prosecution. In addition, that a report be brought back to policy committee to enable further debate on the matter.”

His motion was seconded by Cllr John Dawson and supported by members. A full report will now be prepared, including looking at other authorities which have adopted a by-law, and will be presented to a future meeting of the policy committee where it will either be adopted, or rejected.

After the meeting, Cllr Andy Solloway, leader of the Independents on the council, said many dog owners themselves were in support of tougher penalties.

"They tell me that they often give spare bags to other dog walkers who have “forgotten “ their poo bags and they say it’s plainly obvious that they don’t pick up after their dog. They’ve even had to show them how to do it.

"It’s also a two way thing. The council needs to make sure that their dog bins are emptied regularly and not left overflowing like often happens. This also applies to people like the Canal and River Trust who are also not good about emptying bins."