A grieving family was horrified to find a child’s grave covered in dog mess.
Fife Council is stepping up patrols in Dunfermline Cemetery to clamp down on selfish dog owners who are allowing their pets to foul graves, seemingly unaware of the anger and upset this is causing those tending the last resting place of loved ones.
One family contacted the council to express anger at dog fouling at the lair of a baby’s grave they had been visiting.
Visitor Alexander Stewart said: “A cemetery is supposed to be a place of respect, a place you can go and remember the ones you’ve loved and lost.
“A pet owner allowing their dogs to foul on lairs is possibly one of the most disrespectful things they can do. How would they feel if someone allowed their dog to foul on a loved one’s lair?”
Councillor Gavin Yates, the council’s community health and wellbeing spokesman, admitted incidents like this were “understandably distressing” for families visiting cemeteries.
He hoped the increased presence of the environmental enforcement team would lead to improvements in Dunfermline Cemetery, which lies off Halbeath Road.
“Dog fouling is an issue that affects people in all communities across Fife,” Mr Yates added. “It’s not just a problem on our pavements, in our parks or on our playing fields but, unfortunately, in our many cemeteries across Fife, too.”
He said the aim of stepping up patrols is not to issue a large number of fixed penalty notices but to tell irresponsible owners know that dog fouling was not acceptable and must be stopped.
The local authority is calling on visitors to Fife’s cemeteries and crematoria to report any incidents where irresponsible owners are allowing their dogs to foul the grounds.
“We want to remind everyone else how they can help, by reporting instances of dog fouling to the council. They can choose to do this anonymously and the information can help us to identify an offender and the best time to catch them walking their dog,” he said.
The public’s help in providing information is seen as key because, often, officers can spend hours in a park and not see one offence being committed, only for an offending dog owner to turn up 10 minutes after they have left.
The council would also like to remind owners that dogs should be kept under control at all times and would appreciate it if people kept their dogs on a lead inside the grounds of the crematoria and cemeteries.
Mr Yates added: “We’re thankful to the responsible dog walkers who observe the signs and ensure their dogs are kept under control in these facilities but must highlight this problem, which won’t be tolerated in our local communities.”
Offenders may be given a fixed penalty fine of £40. Repeat offenders can expect to be reported to the procurator fiscal, whereupon the maximum penalty under the Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003 is £500.
The council is encouraging dog walkers to Grab it, Bag it and Bin it. As long as dog waste is suitably bagged, it can go in any landfill or litter bin.
People can also help by reporting any instances of dog fouling, not just those in cemeteries, to the council by calling 03451 55 00 22.