There’s a lot of confusion about the law and dog mess – mostly among non-dog owners. The fact is that dog mess is most definitely an eyesore, a health hazard, and an affront to a modern, organised society.
As dog owners, we have legal duties to clean up when our dogs mess in a public place – and by mess I mean dog pooh! The law does not apply to dog wee.
Where & when don’t we have to scoop the poop?
Nor does it apply to registered blind or deaf people, who aren’t required to clean up after assistance dogs. There is also an exemption for poop scooping on some types of public land. This means that we don’t have to pick up pooh on:
• Roads & highways with a speed limit in excess of 50mph
• Woodlands or land used for agriculture
• Any rural common land
• Land that is mainly moor, marshland or heath
Most local councils in the UK require us dog owners to carry disposable bags when we take our dogs out to any public place. Some councils are generous enough to offer free scoops and bags. You can find out about this by asking your local authority’s animal warden unit.
Watch out for special dog pooh bins to dispense with your pooh bags. Though more and more councils are saving cash by allowing properly tied up or sealed bags to be disposed of in common ore garden bins. Whatever if you can’t find a dog bin, simply double up your pooh bag and dispose of it in a conventional litter bin anyway.
If you come across a street that is littered with dog mess, ask your local council to clean it. It’s important to stay on the right side of the local authority as councils are getting more power to tackle public dog mess under the law, like the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, which repeals the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996.
The new law contains legal measures to prevent dog mess and allows councils and communities to create byelaws relating to dog mess. Councils can also issue the appalling dog control orders against all dog owners or just individuals for offences like allowing a dog to foul a public space.
The fixed penalty orders in relation to dog control orders is £75 where there is no local rate set. Very serious cases allow magistrates to issue maximum penalties of £1,000
The charity that runs the Keep Britain Tidy campaign – ENCAMS – has a leaflet on Dog Fouling and the Law. If you are doing what is required by the law and still have a problem with ignorant members of the public, print out a copy and carry it with you to give to the busybodies to put them right on the law.