Patrols stepped up in Great Yarmouth as dog owners use “cover of darkness” to avoid clearing up dog mess

A warning to dog owners about clearing up dog mess in St George's Park. Issued by Great Yarmouth Borough...

A warning to dog owners about clearing up dog mess in St George's Park. Issued by Great Yarmouth Borough Council. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2013

Dog owners who use the 'cover of darkness' to avoid clearing up their pets' mess will be prosecuted, a council has warned.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council said there had been six prosecutions for failing to clean up after dogs in the past year, while wardens have handed out six fixed penalty notices.

And as the nights draw in, the borough council is stepping up patrols in problem areas while appealing to residents to help in the fight to keep public places sanitary by reporting any dog owners seen breaking the law.

The whole of the borough is covered by the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996. This means that those who fail to clear up after their dogs can incur a fine of up to £1,000 in the courts, or an £80 on-the-spot fine.

The borough council's environmental ranger team said it is usual for dog fouling to increase in the autumn as the clocks go back because irresponsible owners use the cover of darkness to avoid clearing up.

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Val Pettit, the borough council's cabinet member for the environment, said: 'Dog fouling is no better or worse in Great Yarmouth than elsewhere in Norfolk, but we want to do our best to eradicate the problem.

'At this time of the year, with the days getting shorter, there's a temptation for irresponsible dog owners to allow their pets to foul and not clear up after them.

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'Most dog owners are responsible but we would like to hear from any residents who see individuals breaking the law.

'At this stage, we are working to raise awareness and educate people.

'The act of not clearing up after a dog is not only an offence but anti-social and potentially hazardous – especially to young children as it can cause blindness through toxocariasis if it comes into contact with their eyes. The environmental ranger team is stepping up patrols in problem areas and increasing educational and awareness measures.

'Where people do not listen, the rangers have no choice but to issue an £80 fixed penalty notice or prosecute if they have sufficient evidence.

'What we need is strong evidence – for example a description of the dog and person walking it, the location, date and time of the incident – and then we are able to target the right areas or individuals.'

Anyone with information that may help the borough council identify those responsible is asked to call the environmental rangers on 01493 846478.

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