Bad Dog

bad dog pg 18

Herbert Park is a vital amenity for dog walkers, but some are known to abuse its hospitality by not cleaning up after themselves and their pets. NewsFour met one local man who has been using the park for years and has seen the problem grow in recent times.

Bernard told us he is 57 years young and walks his whippet Francie in Herbert Park every day. “I get really annoyed at the selfishness of dog owners who don’t clean up after the animal does its business. It’s getting worse and no one ever seems to get fined or even confronted over it.”

Bernard has his own idea to help address the problem. “The parks should have Facebook pages so people can be shamed. I take pictures on my phone when I see people doing it, then I take a picture of the mess but the Park Wardens don’t seem to want to know. If there was somewhere public I could put them up I think it would deter people. I’ve loads of them in my files at this stage.”

We spoke at length about what Bernard freely admits is a bit of an obsession for him. He claims he can recognise the culprit of the fouling by sight and smell alone. “Every dog is a bit different,” he told us.

In 2013, Drogheda hit the headlines with a local high-profile campaign to rid its streets of dog waste. Now the local authorities are being invited to trial a UK-based name and shame app. The app for mobile phones, which has been devised by Welsh company Streetkleen, is used to record and report incidents of dog fouling quickly and easily, allowing local authorities to respond and manage services efficiently and in a pro-active manner.

The designers have caught wind of the success of the campaign, and are inviting Drogheda Borough Council to be the first to take part in the pilot scheme. “Simple and easy to use by all ages, this app will provide the impetus to increase social responsibility awareness and help maintain the health and cleanliness of communities,” claimed deviser Gary Downie, Managing Director of Streetkleen.

Further evidence that such a scheme could work can be found in South Wales. Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council launched a crackdown three years ago that raised on-the-spot fines to £180, deployed plain clothes wardens and posted the faces of persistent offenders on its website. Since the hard line stance was adopted, the council claims that instances of dog fouling have been reduced by 50%.

City environment leaders in Edinburgh have also declared war on careless pet owners and announced plans to become the first authority in Scotland to use new Publicity Orders that allow details of people and their offences to be made public. Repeat offenders could also be hit with ‘doggy ASBOs’, which include micro-chipping of pets so that owners can be traced.

Until more is done in this country, Bernard is vowing to keep monitoring the situation locally. “I won’t stop. Even if I didn’t have a dog I’d still be interested in this.”

By Steve Kingston