Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council's Health and Community Committee today welcomed a report on the raft of measures being introduced to tackle the escalating issue of dog fouling across Derry and Strabane.
The matter had been raised as a matter of urgency by members with the increase in people exercising outdoors during the Coronavirus pandemic leading to a surge in the problem locally.
Additional resources have now been channelled into a dedicated marketing campaign to raise public awareness and more resources on the ground to carry out additional enforcement, with an appeal to owners to take a more responsible role in picking up after their pets.
Committee members heard this afternoon from Council's Head of Health and Community Wellbeing, Seamus Donaghy, who brought a comprehensive report outlining the work that had been done to date.
The Environment section has reported that over 85 tonnes of dog waste were collected in 2020 which is a significant increase from the 50 tonnes collected in 2019. While this demonstrates that most dog owners are taking their responsibilities seriously, a small minority are continuing to flout the rules, spoiling walkways for other pedestrians.
Among the measures now outlined for implementation are the widespread promotion of the messaging around dog licensing and Dog Control Orders. This will be accompanied by the installation of new signage at Council owned green spaces and designated areas throughout the district. In addition, each dog owner will receive leaflets in relation to 'Responsible Dog Ownership' and 'Dog Fouling' with the reminder renewal letter for their dog licence.
Members heard that patrols will be stepped up by Council's Dog Control Service working alongside Litter Wardens and Park Rangers to deter dog fouling. Staff within leisure services who are currently on furlough will also provide support through patrols. These will be carried out right across the council area during early mornings, late evenings and weekends targeting more popular walkways and parks. Cleansing will continue to address problem areas and cleansing staff will liaise closely with all enforcement officers so that patrols can be targeted more effectively.
Mr Donaghy took the opportunity to issue a reminder that anyone observed by dog wardens or litter wardens failing to clean up after their dog will be issued with an £80 fixed penalty notice. Failure to pay the fixed penalty notice will result in court proceedings, where the maximum fine is £1000. Where appropriate CCTV signage and cameras will be installed in areas experiencing problems with dog fouling for a temporary period.
Welcoming the report, Chair of the Health and Community, Alderman Darren Guy said: "This has become a major issue across the City and District but Council has responded with a hard hitting campaign designed to target the issue from all angles. This cross-departmental approach will be most effective in addressing all concerns, from raising awareness to the important job of enforcement which has proven a particular problem in the past.
"I appeal to all dog owners to be mindful of others and clean up after their pets – not only is it unpleasant it poses a very real danger to children, so please be responsible. I hope that with these additional resources and an intensified campaign over the coming weeks we can change attitudes and clean up our streets so they can be enjoyed safely by all."