Winter 2005

Dog Fouling on dune footpaths - visitor impact.

Dog fouling is consistently one of the highest sources of complaints by the public to MPs, local councillors and local authorities. Estimates put the UK dog population between 6.5 and 7.4 million, producing 1,000 tonnes of faeces every day.

Dog fouling penalty warning notice Dog fouling on coastal footpaths is still a considerable problem in some areas despite the introduction of the dog fouling act in 1996.

Hundreds of dogs are being walked across the coast each day without problem as their conscientious owners keep them under control and clean up after them. However, these owners are let down by a minority who continue to refuse to take responsibility for their dogs.

Reg Yorke, Formby Civic Society said,
This is an important issue on aesthetic, medical and ecological grounds. Strong views have already been expressed by visitors due to the state of some sites. For instance in the 2000 visitor surveys 57% of Sefton residents visiting the coast reported ‘annoyance by the actions of others’ and 59.1% gave the reason for this as ‘Dog fouling/behaviour’. This response was significantly higher than ‘litter’ (40.3%).

Since the Dogs (Fouling of Land Act) 1996 the law has become clearer and this should be helpful in tackling the problem. Current official attitudes are as follows:-

Keep Britain Tidy Poster Campaign against dog fouling Sefton Council; “the whole of the Sefton Coast is designated land under the 1996 Act. On this it is an offence for an owner or keeper of a dog to fail to clear up after their dog has fouled. Failure to comply can result in a prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000. It is not a defence to claim that you did not know or were not there when the dog fouled. Never let your dog out alone”. Dog wardens patrol throughout Sefton.

There are plenty of discrete notices at major dune access points together with appropriate litter bins but the actual use of appropriate disposal seems at present very low. Free dog waste disposal bags are available from Sefton Coast and Countryside Service.

Is there a case for tightening up the regulations regarding dog control? Should everyone now become more pro-active in helping educate, prevent and if necessary punish offenders?

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