The county with the highest number of dogs per head of population is to designate specific walking routes for dog owners, in a desperate bid to curb persistent dog fouling.
Dog owners in Kerry will be encouraged to use only these walkways — which are still being decided — where they can “responsibly walk their dog”.
The designated walks will be equipped with doggie paraphernalia which will include dog excrement “receptacles” and pooper-scoopers strategically placed along the specified routes, according to a report to a councillor.
Kerry has more licenced dogs per head of population than any other county — more than 17,000 licenses were issued last year, about 12 licences for every 100 people in the county — and not all dogs are licenced.
The number of dogs can partly be explained by the fact that greyhound racing is popular in the north of the county, and sheep farming with attendant sheepdogs is notable in the south of the county, a council spokesman said.
Independent Killarney councillor Michael Gleeson, who raised this issue, said every house in Kerry now has at least one dog. Mr Gleeson pointed out that while dogs help keep people fit, in that their owners take them for a walk, every right has a corresponding duty.
Mr Gleeson, a retired teacher, said no dog walker should be without something to collect dog excrement from public places.
He said he is disappointed that council officials’ hands are tied in their bid to clamp down on careless owners as litter wardens must have “reasonable grounds” to challenge a dog owner.
They must spot the dog in the deed, as it were, Mr Gleeson said.
The dog owners are not obliged to carry pooper-scoopers or even give their name and address to the litter wardens.
“It should be open to any council official to stop and ask a dog walker where his or her pooper-scooper is,” Mr Gleeson said.
Urban areas in Kerry are badly fouled and an early-morning survey of a section of road near a housing estate in Killarney last year found 24 separate “deposits” in public spaces.
The council is now examining which specific walking routes to designate for dog owners. The designated pathways might be a solution in urban areas, but in the national park and beaches, where the problem is huge, there is little chance of confining dogs and their owners to the paths, Mr Gleeson warned.
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