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VIDEO: Angus grave-diggers to fine pet owners £80 after rise in cemetery dog poops

Grave diggers will soon be able to issue on-the-spot fines to dog owners who allow their animals to desecrate Angus cemeteries.

Staff from parks and cemeteries are to be trained so they have the power to punish any offences they witness.

Murray Shand, Brandon Lee, Diane Paterson and Margot Massie with the specialist poo hoover.

The fixed penalty notice for dog fouling is currently £80, rising to £100 if the person fails to pay within 28 days.

Pic shows; Diane Paterson with the specialist poo hoover in the Newmonthill Cemetery, Forfar.

Staff at Newmonthill Cemetery in Forfar said the issue is becoming more serious.

Mourners have been forced to clean dog waste off floral tributes and mementoes left for loved ones.

Waste operative Diane Paterson said it was particularly distressing for those visiting graves.

She referenced one incident in which she witnessed dog waste among flowers on top of a plot, just hours after a burial had taken place.

Diane works alongside waste staff and has spent seven years cleaning up faeces in Angus with a specialist “pooper-scooper” machine.

Angus Council are cracking down on dog fouling in cemeteries.

She said: “It started off as a temporary job but I was made full-time when the council realised how bad it was.

“It’s a job I would quite happily give up tomorrow if people would clean up after their dog.

“It’s very sad and just recently, people had Christmas wreaths lying beside graves which had dog faeces on them.

“How would they feel if someone allowed their dog to foul on a loved one’s grave? There are plenty of dog bins in our cemeteries so there is no excuse.”

She said it was “insensitive and upsetting” for mourners and urged irresponsible dog walkers to think twice.

Pic shows; L/R, Murray Shand, Brandon Lee, Diane Paterson and Margot Massie with the specialist poo hoover.

Community enforcement staff are also undertaking a range of patrols across Angus, from high visibility patrols to try to deter potential offenders, to more discreet observations in an effort to catch perpetrators in the act.

Enforcement worker Margo Massie said a dog fouling offence must be witnessed in order for a fixed penalty notice to be issued.

“Lately we have been coming here during the day and we have also been coming back at night,” she said.

“People have been walking dogs in here without torches and if I can’t see them then how can they see what their dog is doing?”

She said these patrols are best targeted via information from the public regarding dog fouling issues.

“We are patrolling a lot of areas but it’s very difficult for us to be in the right place at the right time.

“That’s why we are trying to get the public on side to make a statement if they witness dog fouling.

“That can be difficult but we need the public to work with us to tackle this problem.”

 

Dog owners urged to show respect for the dead

Gravedigger Murray Shand said the problem of dog fouling has been getting worse.

Mr Shand, who has worked at Newmonthill Cemetery in Forfar for three years, urged dog owners to show some respect for the dead.

He said he has witnessed dog poo on flowers, mementoes such as cuddly toys, and even on headstones, during his time working for Angus Council.

Mr Shand has praised the council’s efforts to tackle the problem but stressed the responsibility lies with the dog owners.

“I remember seeing dog poo on the plinth that the stone sits on,” he said.

“So it was actually on the stone, more or less.

“It’s just not on and it’s not nice at all to see.”

Mr Shand said it has always been a problem in the county’s cemeteries.

“We like to take a bit of pride in what we do in this cemetery because it is important to a lot of people including ourselves,” he said.

“We want this cemetery to look the best it can and our job isn’t helped by irresponsible dog owners.

“We also have visitors from Canada and America who visit to find the graves of relatives and it’s not a great impression.”

He said staff are also bracing themselves for the first cut of the cemetery grass of the year.

Mr Shand said it was not a particularly nice experience “when you have to go over dog poo”.

Dog fouling remains top of the agenda at community councils across the district, with individual places also organising their own initiatives to highlight the problem.

Dog fouling tends to be worse during the winter months, particularly at night when some owners feel they cannot be seen “under cover of darkness”.

The number of fines dished out to dog owners in recent years has been very small, despite enforcement action.

It is an offence for a person who is responsible for a dog in a public place to fail to immediately remove and dispose of its waste appropriately after it has fouled.

People can report a dog fouling offence on the Angus Council website.

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