Dog walkers face falling foul of tougher council sanctions

Dog walkers in Co Cork could face on-the-spot fines if caught without poop bags and may be named and shamed if they don’t clean up after their pets.

These are just some of the suggestions coming from councillors in Cork County Council, which is expected to set up a special taskforce to deal with the increasing scourge of dog fouling.

Sinn Féin councillor Danielle Twomey won unanimous support when she asked the local authority to set up a taskforce to deal with the issue.

She said it should be allocated special funding from the council budget and plans should be put in place to target the issue “head-on”.

Ms Twomey said she was being “bombarded with complaints” from her constituents and was frustrated by the council’s lack of action in dealing with the issue.

“We need to do something because the problem is getting worse,” she said. “Southwark council [in London] has special machinery to clean up parks and has designated ‘no dog’ areas. Dublin’s four local authorities joined up last year to tackle the problem and are to put up 3,000 ‘bin-it’ signs. Fingal County Council also trialled audio messages in areas, which were successful.”

Fine Gael councillor Noel McCarthy said extra funding and extra dog wardens were needed.

“But the only way to tackle this properly is by naming and shaming these people,” he said. “There’s a health aspect to this, especially where dogs are fouling children’s play areas.”

Independent councillor Danny Collins said there were dog poo bag dispensers in some towns, but there were no designated bins to put the bags in, with the result that some owners end up “throwing them over walls”.

Sinn Féin councillor Melissa Mullane said the biggest issue was enforcement and not enough staff.

“Litter fines are being issued, but this is littering as well,” she said.

Fianna Fáil councillor Seamus McGrath said: “We need to put the emphasis on enforcement and need to put fear into dog owners who don’t clean up after their pets.

“In Carrigaline there is only one dog bin for a population of 17,000.”

His party colleague, Deirdre O’Brien, said not one fine had been issued in her municipal district last year for dog fouling, while Social Democrats councillor June Murphy said that if people are fined, that is when they are going to take notice.

Fine Gael Derry Canty also agreed that a ‘name and shame’ policy was needed for offending owners. He said many dog owners put their pets on long leads in the knowledge that they could walk on and pretend not to notice their pet fouling.

Independent councillor Alan Coleman said one of his local engineers had come up with a good idea.

He said, at present, dog wardens had to catch the owner with the dog as the “crime was unfolding”, which was extremely difficult as many owners took their pets for walks in the early morning or late evenings when the dog wardens weren’t on duty.

“He had the good idea to make it an offence not to take dog poo bags out while walking their pets,” he said. “That’s more easily detectable with spot checks rather than catching them in the act.”

Suggestions have already been made at the Fermoy/Charleville municipal district to ban dogs from certain walkways.

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