Dog Fouling Laws
Anyone who has been for a walk in their local park has undoubtedly, inadvertently and disgustingly stepped into a pile of dog mess left there by a careless owner. This is often followed by an unabashed tirade of cursing and expletives as the hapless victim runs around in the long grass trying to clean up.
Although many people see the “funny” side of such a “hilarious” event, dog fouling is a major problem in the UK, and one that seems to be getting worse as more owners flout the responsibility of cleaning up after their pet pooches.
It is estimated that the UK dog population currently stands somewhere between 6.5 and 7.4 million, producing roughly 1000 tonnes of excrement each day – this makes it unsurprising that dog fouling is such a huge issue across the UK.
What is the law on dog fouling?
Under the Litter (Animal Droppings) Order 1991 (part of the Environmental Protection Act 1990) it is the duty of local authorities to keep certain areas of land clear of dog faeces.
They are as follows:
• Any public walk or pleasure ground.
• Any land laid out as a garden or used for the purpose of recreation.
• Any part of the seashore which is frequently used by large number of people.
• Any esplanade or promenade
• Any land not forming part of the highway or, in Scotland, a public road, which is open to the air, which the public are permitted to use on foot only, and which provides access to retail premises
• A trunk road picnic area
• A picnic site.
Owners who fail to clear up after their dogs can be fined up to £1000 if they are taken to court, but there are also a fixed penalty schemes in England that allows authorities to issue £50 spot fines for the offence.
Many people who break the law try to distance themselves from the offence they have committed - and much is just the same with dog fouling. Many people make up excuses as to why they didn’t clean up the mess, like they were unaware of the fouling or they lacked the means to remove the droppings. These excuses will not hold up in court and you will still be fined.
Some local areas are designated “no fouling” zones without having to provide sign notification on their status, so always ensure you know the rules of the local areas that you walk your pet through.
Exceptions to the offence are:
• The person in charge of the dog has a reasonable excuse for not clearing up
• The owner or occupier of the land has consented to the faeces being left
• The person puts the faeces in a bin on the land
• The person in charge of the dog has a registered visual impairment
What can I do about a dog fouling offence?
It is advised that if you witness an offence you should report it immediately to your local authority (police, council) and try to find out what the procedures for dog control are in your local area.
You can also contact the National Dog Warden Association (NWDA), who enforce government legislation relating to dog fouling and local canine related bye-laws. Dog Wardens also have an educational responsibility to the local community by promoting responsible attitudes toward owning a dog and practical advice on how to handle stray, nuisance and noisy dogs.
Before reporting anything, you should see if you can get the name and address of the person in charge of the fouling dog, remember the time and place and get a description of the animal.
Although it may be tempting to describe the dog as “furry and brown” this won’t be much help to the authorities, so try to find out the breed of the pooch to guarantee an exact match.
What is the best way to clean up after a dog?
Use a doggy bag, or a carrier bag, to pick up the faeces. Ideally, this should then be placed in a designated dog bin. If this is not possible, take the bag home or, as a last resort, double wrap the faeces and put in a normal litterbin. Poop scoops can also be used, they are available from most pet stores, but a lot of owners don't like carrying them around.