Dog walkers in Fife caught without a bag to clean up their pets’ mess could soon be hit with on-the-spot fines as frustration grows over negligent owners.
The Courier has learned that Fife Council officers could soon be asked to investigate the introduction of new byelaws which would make it an offence for pet owners who fail to have the means to pick up after their dog amid concern about the low level of fines currently being handed out.
The tactic has already been used by local authority areas south of the border, where offenders who fail to pay a £100 penalty within seven days face prosecution and a possible £1,000 fine.
And with only a very small proportion of complaints in Fife resulting in a financial punishment, Kirkcaldy area councillors have been asked if they would support an approach to legal services in relation to a poo bag byelaw here.
The idea has been mooted by Kirkcaldy area committee convener Councillor Neil Crooks after figures revealed there were just three fines issued between April and September this year, even though 75 complaints were received.
Just three fines were issued in the previous six months when 132 complaints were made.
The same is true in Glenrothes, where no fines were issued despite 46 complaints between April and September, and in Levenmouth, where three fines were issued after 131 reports were made.
“I think without exception people are disgusted and annoyed when they see dog poo lying in the street or in our parks and open spaces often not too far from a bin,” he said.
“It seems obvious to me that anyone walking their dog has to have the means of picking up dog poo otherwise they are accepting that they find it okay for their dog to mess our open spaces and streets.
“If it was law that dog walkers had to have dog poo bags or similar like appears to be the case in England, then our wardens would have the right to ask, warn and fine people walking dogs without the means to pick up poo.
“I have had dogs for years and would welcome such a move and would no doubt find great support with the general public who want more enforcement.”
Any such measure in Fife would have to be well thought through, as opponents in England have claimed some pet owners found without a bag and subsequently fined had already used a bag and disposed of it responsibly.
Dawn Jamieson, Fife Council team manager for safer communities, said: “At present, issuing on the spot fines for dog owners not carrying poop scoop bags is not something we can enforce.
“The enforceable offence under the Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003 is if the owner fails to immediately remove the faeces.
“We’ll consider any and all ideas that could discourage dog fouling, but we rely on the public coming forward and reporting instances of dog fouling to the council.
“Information that helps us to identify an offender and the best time to catch them walking their dog is very useful.”
Dog fouling incidents can be reported online at www.fifedirect.org.uk/dogfouling or by contacting 03451 55 00 22.