Monday, July 27, 2009

Dog Fouling

There’s a notice outside my house that reads, ‘This area is designated under the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996 NO FOULING clean up after your dog. Offenders will be reported for prosecution. Maximum Fine £1000 Rochford District Council’.
Well, I must say that since the 1996 Act of Parliament making dog owners responsible for cleaning up after their dogs was applied 12 years later by my Local Council, the area where I live is a cleaner place. Rochford District Council applied the Act in August, 2008, and since then there have been far fewer dogs doing their droppings on the patch of grass outside my house. The majority of dog owners take their responsibility for complying with the law seriously. Only today, I noticed an elderly gentleman retrieve a dollop deposited by his dog on my neighbour’s front lawn. Out of curiosity, after he had left the scene, I examined the spot where the possible criminal offence could have taken place, but I could not find any evidence for supposing his dog had defecated. That’s good news for my neighbour, because it’s unpleasant when cutting a lawn to have to push the mower over a stinking deposit, or remove the stuff beforehand.
Just up the road from my house there’s a children’s play park where my wife and I take our grandchildren, and I’m pleased to say that the park is an area subject to a local byelaw that bans dog from entering it. There’s a foot grating at the entrance to prevent stray dogs from gaining entrance.
In nearby Southend-on-Sea there’s been a lot of debate about restrictions preventing dog owners from taking their dogs on the beaches during the summer months, and the Borough Council employ a Dog Warden who is responsible for following up cases that could lead to prosecutions, especially if dogs foul the beach. The Council can enforce a fine of up to £5000 for the offence in an area where it is not permitted and the Council’s costs for bringing the case to Court may be added to the fine.
One of the problems with prosecutions is obtaining valid evidence from witnesses who are expected to provide the date and time of the incident, the location, the person’s details, the dog’s details and if a vehicle is involved, the vehicle’s registration number. Photographic or video evidence is most valuable in proving an offence. Not only must the evidence be obtained, but the witness or witnesses must be willing to attend Court.
I am not a dog owner, but I can understand and sympathise with them when they are subject to the law and I am pleased with the way the majority have responded to the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act, 1996. Three cheers to them, and thumbs up!

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