Foul play: Scots councils fail to fine dirty dog owners

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By Kirsty Topping

LAZY Scots councils are failing to fine dog owners who let their pets foul the streets.

Officials who catch dog owners failing to clean up have the legal power to impose a fine of up to 500.

But some Scots councils are averaging less than one fine a month, according to official figures.

Despite having a population of around 90,000, Stirling Council has fined just 13 dog owners in six years.

Other poorly-performing councils include Fife with just 12 fines in five years, Aberdeenshire with 11 fines over the same period and Clackmannanshire with nine. Orkney has not handed out a single fine for dog fouling.

But other, more determined councils have managed to crack down on the menace.

Glasgow has handed out more than 1,500 fines and Edinburgh almost 1,000 in the past five years.

Under the 2003 Dog Fouling Act (Scotland), the standard fine is 40, rising to 60 if it is not paid within a month. Dog owners who refuse to give their name and address can be fined 500.

The problem of dog fouling is so bad in Oban that postmen recently threatened to stop some deliveries.

Despite that, the local council, Argyll and Bute, has handed out just 128 fines in the past five years.

Councillor Roderick McCuish: “I’m very disappointed that Argyll and Bute Council have not been more proactive in fining dog foulers.

“We have the legislation to do it, while we’re not using the legislation our streets are getting filthier and filthier.”

Angus council, which handed out just 76 fines between 2005 and 2010, has been criticised by residents for their attitude towards dog fouling.

Last year, Carnoustie Community Council drew up a map of dog mess

“hotspots’ in the town.

Chairman Jim Simpson said:

“There is a massive discrepancy between councils and they definitely need to pull their socks up.

“We have found that week in, week out at our meetings this is one of the main topics for community discussion. It may seem trivial with all the things that are going on in the world but that’s what they are concerned about.

“It’s not the dogs, it’s the owners that have to take responsibility for their pets and pick up after themselves. “

Fife councillor Donald McGregor said:

“It’s a disgusting habit. There can’t be a single person in the world that doesn’t know they should pick it up.

“The people that do this take their dogs out at night, or take them to rural villages, or out in the early morning so they are not seen.

“It’s dangerous, especially for children, and it’s not nice to bring into your house. “

A spokeswoman for Stirling council claimed they were taking a

“zero tolerance’ approach despite having one of the lowest levels of fines in Scotland.

She said:

“Our officers won’t hesitate to impose a 40 spot fine if a dog owner is caught allowing their dog to foul and not cleaning it up. “

A spokesman for East Renfrewshire Council, which has handed out just 31 fines since wardens were introduced in 2009, claimed the low numbers were evidence of responsible dog ownership in the area.

He said:

“Our wardens have been carrying out regular, focused patrols at hot spots right across our area.

“While fines are an important part of our enforcement action, we are keen on encouraging dog owners to clean up after their pet and void the need for fines. “

But Edinburgh council, which handed out 941 fines, said hard line tactics were working.

A spokesman said the city had seen an 80% reduction in dog fouling since it introduced a campaign which saw postcards with images dog poo posted through letterboxes across the city.

Only one council, Western Isles, failed to respond to our request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

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