Sunday, 8 April 2012

Council warns on dogs, considers new controls

Lancaster City Council is having no messing in its bid to rid the district of dog fouling having launched an enforcement exercise to catch irresponsible dog owners failing to pick up after their dogs.

The local council is also consulting on proposals to increase dog control measures, replacing and extending powers under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

These powers are intended to help counter problems created by irresponsible dog owners, such as dog fouling, and aggressive or out of control dogs but some of the proposals, which include increased demands for dogs to be kept on leads, are proving controversial.

Dog mess continues to be a public nuisance as well as a health hazard in the district and the Councl says this winter saw their dog warden service stretched to the limits dealing with almost double the complaints compared to the same period last year.

The results of a survey to identify the worst times of day for offending was to confirm dog wardens’ suspicions that dog fouling occurred most often during early mornings and evenings.

Last month, an enforcement exercise was launched at a local dog fouling hotspot on Sandylands Promenade and targeting the times of the day dog fouling appears to occur most often.  Over three days, council staff carried out surveillance from an elevated viewpoint and relayed any sightings of dog fouling activity to other officers on the ground.

During the course of days one and two, 11 fixed penalty notices  for £80 were issued to offenders and by day three, every dog walker spotted by officers was cleaning up after their dog.

“People know it is an offence not to clean up, whether on the pavement or on the beach, in a park or public garden," said Sue Clowes,  Public health Team Leader. "It is the small minority of irresponsible dog owners who don’t clear up who continue to cause significant problems for residents and visitors to the area.”

Coun Karen Leytham, Cabinet member with responsibility for environmental health, said: ‘There really is no excuse for leaving dog mess on the ground when a poop bag can be put in any council litter bin or your grey wheelie bin.

“This enforcement operation on the promenade and beach has been successful and others will take place in other areas without warning.”

However, with so many hot spots to cover, Lancaster City Council is asking for your help to catch and take action against those dog owners who continue to litter our streets, cycle paths and recreation areas.

If you have any information as to the identity of any irresponsible dog owners on your patch, call the dog warden service on 01524 582935 or send an email to dogwardens@lancaster.gov.uk. All information will be held in strictest confidence.


Proposals to extend dog controls, which the Council is asking for views on, have had a mixed reponse. Councillor Jon Barry says that if the new orders mean that dogs have to be on lead on all of the district's cycleways then this will blight the lives of many of the responsible dog owners in the district. He also feels it will also mean that dogs will not get proper exercise and be more likely to be aggressive.

"I am a heavy user of cyclepaths in the district," Coun Barry explained. "My experience is that the vast majority of dog owners have their dogs under control and are extremely responsible in terms of avoiding conflicts with bikes.

"The current system is not perfect but the majority of the time dogs, dog walkers, cyclists and pedestrians exist well together - the key is that everyone needs to be aware of and have respect for other users."

"If this order is brought in it will mean that responsible dog walkers in places like the Crook O'Lune, Conder Green and many parts of the canal will be forced to not exercise their dogs properly and be punished for the potential activities of a minority."

"I welcome nearly every aspect of the new orders - but the restrictions on cycleways seems to be a step too far," he feels. "We need to educate cyclists and dog walkers to behave responsibly rather than imposing these restrictive rules.

"I think that the emphasis should be on dogs being under control rather than on a lead - although if people want to keep their dog on a lead then it is perfectly fine."

"As a cyclist, I would rather that dogs were off-lead than on a flexi-lead. I remember that only a few years ago, a young girl had a serious neck injury after cycling into a flexi-lead."

• Lancaster City Council is currently consulting on proposals to increase dog control measures in the district.  If you want to have your say, visit www.lancaster.gov.uk/dogcontrolorders for information.  This information is also available at Lancaster and Morecambe Town Halls and local libraries.

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