The chief executive of Cork City Council has defended a €32,000 spend on its dog fouling awareness campaign after figures showed just one fine has been issued for the offence in seven years.
As City Hall launched its second dog fouling awareness campaign in association with Maxi Zoo yesterday, Ann Doherty said it was a decision of councillors to allocate the budget for the campaign which was part of an effort to change the behaviour of dog owners.
Fianna Fáil councillor Ken O’Flynn questioned the spend after figures released last week showed that only one fine has been issued in the city in respect of dog fouling since 2010 — the €150 fine was issued on March 8, 2017.
He also said he counted more than 100 separate piles of dog faeces on one side of Blarney St on one day recently after being invited to inspect the area by a local resident who damaged her wrist after slipping in dog dirt.
The prevalence of such vast quantities of dog dirt on one of the country’s longest streets was proof that last year’s campaign had not worked, he said.
“The problem is not just confined to this one area — it is an issue city-wide,” he said. “But it is clear from this area that the money spent on this campaign hasn’t been well spent.
“It’s all well and good running an awareness and education campaign, and having poster competitions.
“But in my view, there is too much carrot and not enough stick in this approach. The money would have been better spent employing two extra dog wardens.
“You have a better chance of winning the Lotto than getting a dog fouling fine in Cork.”
A council spokesman said it is very difficult to impose a fine for dog fouling because dog owners must be caught in the act but he insisted that this year’s campaign will build on the awareness raised by last year’s efforts.
Councillors have agreed to allocate some €20,000 for this year’s campaign, which will be spent on a school art competition, the provision of dog poo bags, and bus, radio, and cinema advertising.
The council spokesman said: “The initiative is to create awareness about the huge problem that indiscriminate dog fouling creates but also to educate people on the dangers to health that dog fouling can cause to people, and to get the message out there that dog fouling also creates huge difficulties for people with disabilities, with visual impairment, and for the elderly.”
The council will stage awareness raising roadshows at suburban shopping centres over the coming days and a poster by North Presentation primary school student Kealynn Dollard, who won last year’s art competition, will be displayed on the Bus Éireann city fleet later this month.
A poster by Mikaela Ní Mhurcú, who was announced yesterday as the winner of this year’s art competition, will be used to front the council’s dog fouling awareness campaign next year.
The number of dog licences issued in the city has gone from 2,033 in 2010, peaking at 3,294 in 2014, to stand at 2,567 last year. A total of 536 licences have been issued in the first two months of this year.
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