Dog Fouling and the Law

Dog mess is unsightly, messy and even a potential health hazard.

Tue 29 Nov 2016

By Judy

Dog Fouling and the Law

Dog Fouling and the Law

Dog mess is unsightly, messy and even a potential health hazard. Most dog owners are responsible owners and pick up after their pets, but a few selfish owners still allow their dogs to foul pavements and footpaths.

Councils are responsible for cleaning up dog mess in our parks and on our roads. Most councils will issue a fixed £75 fixed penalty to dog owners for dog mess, but some councils are stricter, requiring dog owners to carry poop scoops and bags, along with bigger fines. Fines can increase up to £1,000 if you go to court.You can find information on fines in your area by checking your council’s website.

Why it's important to clean up after your dog

Dogs are already banned from children’s play areas and recreation grounds, so it’s crucial we keep our streets and walking areas clean to prevent our dogs being restricted from even more areas. Dog mess is highly unpleasant, an eye sore and smells - as anyone who has ever trod in it, or worse, sat in it, will testify. Dog mess carries harmful bacteria and sometimes worm eggs.

Dogs are banned from many popular walking areas including:

  • parks and recreation grounds
  • children’s playgrounds
  • sports grounds
  • tourist beaches and promenades
  • picnic sites
  • pedestrianised areas and pavements
  • verges
  • footpaths
  • gutters and carriageways

If you are caught by a dog warden for not cleaning up after your dog, you will face a fine. The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 has given local authorities and parish councils in England and Wales power to introduce Dog Control Orders in public areas. The Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act of 2003 applies similar measures north of the border.

Dog mess is probably one of the main reasons why people dislike dogs and some campaigners would like to see dogs banned from most public spaces, which would, of course, be a great shame.

What are the health risks of dog mess?

Toxocara canis is a roundworm found in dogs. Roundworm eggs are found in dog mess, which can easily be picked up by young children, when they are playing. Babies and very young toddlers do a lot of exploring of items with their mouths…..

Contact with the roundworm can lead to stomach upsets, sore throats, asthma and, in rare cases, even blindness. The eggs can remain active in the soil for many years, long after the dog mess has wasted away. All sorts of harmful bacteria is also present in any kind of dog poo, even if a dog is not carrying the roundworm eggs.

What you should do about your dog mess?

If your dog fouls in a public place, you must then clean up the mess by law. Always carry plenty of disposable poo bags, so that you are never caught short, you don’t want to break the law accidentally! Place dog waste in special dog waste bins and not in general rubbish bins. If there is no dog waste bins, take it home and dispose of it there. Waste can be flushed down the loo or buried in the garden (the bags too if they are biodegradable), somewhere where they are in no danger of being dug up. Do not put dog mess in green garden waste bags.

Common excuses from dog owners for not picking up dog mess

I didn’t see my dog foul

Unfortunately, not claiming to see you pet foul is not a valid reason to avoid a fine. Only registered assistance dog owners are exempt from the law.

The dog bin was full

Dog bins are maintained by the council, and emptied regularly. However some popular walking areas can get very busy at weekends and during holiday periods, and bins can easily become full. You can report a full bin to the council, some councils even offer an online service to report bins that are full. It’s important to report bins that are full, as bins left partially open can encourage birds to peck open bags or even fly off and drop them further afield.

I left my bags at home and was planning to go home or to the car to collect some bags.

Again, it’s important to get into the habit of always taking bags on the dog walk. Simply tie them around your dog lead, and keep a good supply in your pockets and in the car. If you are cut short, why not ask a fellow dog walker for help? Claiming to be going home to collect bags to clear dog mess will also cost you a fine.

There wasn’t a dog bin on our walk

There will be walks where no dog bins are present, especially in rural areas.  The law still applies regardless of the fact no bin is present, so make sure you pick up and take your dog’s mess home with you.