A team of dog walkers have started a regular clean-up operation to tackle the increasing amount of abandoned dog mess across the district.
Last week parents and councillors in Knaresborough branded the problem as ‘dirty and miserable’, but their comments prompted residents all over the district to highlight that fouling is widespread.
On the Harrogate Advertiser Facebook page people commented that Valley Gardens, Nidd Gorge, Hookstone, Bilton and Bogs Lane were all badly affected areas, with more than one reader describing the problem as a ‘slalom’ in excrement.
But in a bid to prevent dog walkers being given a bad name, dog-walking business owner, Rowan Hardcastle, initiated a pick-up operation at Hookstone which saw more than 800 dog poos collected.
Ms Hardcastle, owner of A Bark in the Park, said: “I have been doing this for 10 years and it has definitely got worse, 10 years ago there was hardly any dog mess, now it’s everywhere.
We want to do it because we’re privileged to use Nidd Gorge and Hookstone to run our businesses.
“50 per cent of it is lazy dog owners and a certain percentage is people who aren’t aware that they have to pick it up especially if it’s just a field, but they forget these aren’t just places for dog walkers.”
While some residents have claimed Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) are not doing enough to resolve the problem, Ms Hardcastle said the responsibility lies with the dog’s owner.
She said: “It’s a luxury to have poo bins everywhere, the council doesn’t have to provide them. If you choose to have a dog you have got to take responsibility for it. I can pick up after six dogs in one walk so I can’t see why people can’t pick up after one.”
Councillor Mike Chambers, HBC Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, said: “As a dog owner I am keenly aware of the problem. Our dog wardens carry out regular enforcement patrols across the district and have recently been focusing on a number of areas.
"We have recently worked with the Dogs Trust to promote their ‘The Big Scoop Love It’ campaign. Posters were put out in parks and 200 bin stickers were put on waste bins. New ‘no fouling’ signs are being erected in many areas and the ‘we’re watching you’ posters are still located on the waste bins.
“The majority of dog owners are responsible and pick up after their dogs. It’s an irresponsible minority who cause this problem. We need to work together and I would urge the public to name and shame anyone who is responsible for not cleaning up after their pets.”
The next big pick up will take place at Nidd Gorge this Saturday (March 18).
Contact the council’s dog wardens on 01423 500600 or email EP@harrogate.gov.uk