Investigation uncovers truth about dog fouling in the district

Yorkshire Water says some "senseless" dog owners are hanging their dog mess from trees rather than use bins provided. Pictured is warden Colin Winterburn next to some of the hanging bags.
Yorkshire Water says some "senseless" dog owners are hanging their dog mess from trees rather than use bins provided. Pictured is warden Colin Winterburn next to some of the hanging bags.

There were 295 complaints about dog fouling in the Harrogate district in the past year, an investigation has found, yet only 13 fines were issued.

Dog control officers, working for Harrogate Borough Council (HBC), have received 295 complaints about mess on parks, pavements and playgrounds.

Yet, say officers, more needs to be done by members of the public to catch and convict those responsible.

“Dog fouling is unacceptable to the community, presents a real health hazard if left and places a high financial burden on the local authority,” a spokesman for the council said. “Allowing a dog to mess in a public area is not only an antisocial act that produces an unpleasant environment but also poses health risks for others.”

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Harrogate Advertiser has uncovered the figures in light of recent resident campaigns.

It revealed that from May 1, 2011, to May 1, 2012, there were 295 complaints about dog fouling. Thirteen of those have resulted in fines being paid.

Yorkshire Water said it too faced a difficult task trying to clean up after “irresponsible” owners who are hanging used bags from trees rather than placing them in nearby bins.

Irate residents on Twitter said it was the responsibility of dog owners to clean up after their pets.

“It’s awful, all over the Stray and pavements,” said Simon W. “People need to take owners to task if they see it, or photograph and report it.”

Fiona Rule said: “It’s not just dog fouling; my dog (and yes I clean up after him) had to have stitches after standing on a broken bottle.”

HBC says it employs the equivalent of 1.8 full time dog control officers, whose main job is the seizure and kenelling of more than 200 stray dogs in Harrogate every year.

They are also responsible for dog fouling enforcement, education, and dealing with around 150 complaints about dogs barking and noise nuisance.

The council spokesman said the officers cover 500 miles, serving a population of 150,000.

There are daily patrols, sometimes plain-clothed, targeting known hotspots. There are 250 waste bins in the district, 20,000 dog fouling signs and more than 1,000 litter bins.

The council has handed out 50,000 poop scoop bags free of charge, said the spokesman, but the public still have a duty to report offences when they happen.

To report dog fouling call 01423 556633 or visit the council’s website, www.harrogate.gov.uk.

The Freedom of Information request found that;

Between May 1, 2001 and May 1, 2012, Harrogate Borough Council issued 17 fines for dog fouling across the district.

In this time, there were 295 complaints about dog fouling.

Only 13 of the fines have been paid. One was withdrawn after it was contested, two were withdrawn after incorrect details were given by the offender, one is still pending.

A total of £650 has been generated in fines, at £50 each.