New dog mess rules come into force in Daventry today

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Dog owners have been warned that new stricter rules on dog fouling are being introduced across Daventry District today (Tuesday).

Now dog walkers will risk a £100 fine if they do not have the means for picking up after their pet when they are out for a walk.

The new Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) being introduced by Daventry District Council is designed to target dog owners who persistently fail to pick up after their pet, creating a mess as well as a health hazard.

The PSPO, which comes into force on Tuesday, December 1, means dog walkers risk a £100 fine and potentially prosecution if they do not:

- Pick up their dog’s poo

- Carry the means for picking up their dog’s poo while on a walk

- Stop their dog from entering a fenced-off playground

- Place their dog on a lead when directed by a council officer

- Put their dog on a lead in the area around the visitor centre/café at Daventry Country Park.

Enforcement of the PSPO will focus on education at first, with people who fall foul of the new rules reminded of their responsibilities as dog owners by Council officers.

However the new powers will be fully exercised from the spring, so dog owners are being urged to make sure they get into the habit of taking plenty of poo bags out with them on walks.

The decision to implement the PSPO was made after a public consultation revealed strong support for it.

Councillor Mike Warren, health and housing portfolio holder on Daventry District Council, said: “Every year our Council receives more than 100 complaints about dog fouling, which poses a real health hazard, especially to young children.

“We’ve introduced a number of innovative ideas and campaigns to tackle the problem, and those have proved effective in the main. But we still have a small minority of persistent offenders that we are keen to stop.

“This new order gives us greater powers to take effective action against those irresponsible dog owners who do not pick up after their pets.

“Our initial priorities will focus on raising awareness of the new powers among local communities and to educate dog walkers about the issues. We will be advising them to make sure they have extra poo bags with them at all times to ensure they have the means to pick up, regardless of how long they’ve been out and about with their pet.

“These new powers are not intended to penalise the many responsible dog owners in our District, who should be assured that our officers will be taking a common-sense approach on their patrols. It’s not unreasonable though, for example, to expect someone who has just arrived at a venue to walk their dog to be carrying poo bags.”

Daventry District Council has also put together a list of frequently asked questions to help residents:

What if I’m asked to show a dog poo bag and I refuse? Do Council enforcement officers have powers of stop and search?

Officers have no powers of stop and search – but it is an offence to fail to produce a bag or other means for picking up after your dog when asked by an authorised enforcement officer. The officer will ask for your name and address and issue a fixed penalty fine of £100 if you refuse or are unable to produce a bag. People are reminded it is a criminal offence to obstruct an authorised enforcement officer in their duty.

I only take one bag out with me on a walk – what if I am approached after I’ve used it?

We would urge owners to take a handful of bags with them on every walk – you never know when your dog might decide to go twice. However enforcement officers will take a common-sense approach to the new powers. The fines are not in place as a money-making scheme or to ‘catch out’ responsible owners. Officers will generally approach people at the start of their walk – at the entrance to parks or in car parks at popular dog walking spots – when owners would be expected to have a supply of bags with them. Officers will also be reasonable when considering any explanation offered as to why a person is not carrying bags.

I’ve never seen a dog warden. How will these new rules be enforced?

Daventry District Council has two enforcement officers who routinely patrol hotspots around the district, including early mornings, evenings and on weekends. They wear plain clothes and usually use an unmarked van in order to keep a low profile.

What about dog walkers who have poo bags but no intention of picking up after their dogs?

The main offence of failing to pick up after your dog will still be enforced. Officers will target dog fouling hotspots with the intention of catching the small minority of dog owners who are still failing to pick up after their dogs.

Why might I be told to put my dog on a lead?

Most dogs love being off the lead and in many circumstances – so long as your dog is safe and under control – that is absolutely fine. However if an authorised officer has formed the opinion that a dog is causing danger or serious nuisance to other people or their dogs the owner will be ordered to bring it under control on a lead.

I’ve bagged my dog’s poo but there is no dog poo bin around. What should I do?

Dog poo can be bagged and placed in any normal public bin – it does not have to go in a dog poo bin. If there are no bins available it can be taken home and put into a dustbin. If you come across any bins that are full please report it to DDC at www.daventrydc.gov.uk/online and we will empty it.

How are you informing people of the new rules?

As well as press releases and an article in Daventry Calling, we will be putting up clear signage at sites across the district. This includes clear signposting of the area around the café in Daventry Country Park where dogs must now be kept on leads. The first few months under the new powers will also focus on educating dog owners about the new rules.

I use an assistance dog – do the same rules apply?

The measures do not apply to assistance dogs used by people who are partially sighted, or by those who are registered as disabled and lack the physical ability to comply with the requirements of the PSPO.

I’ve seen a dog walker allow their dog to foul without picking it up. What should I do?

Please report it to the Council with as much information as possible, such as:

The time/date/location of incident

The frequency of the offence if it happens regularly

A description/breed of the dog

Any other descriptions to help identify the offender, including their name and address if known

You can report it by visiting www.daventrydc.gov.uk/online or phoning 01327 871100.