Causeway Coast and Glens Council has adopted a new ‘Green Dog Walker Scheme’, at a cost of between £3,000 and £4,000 per year, which helps to promote responsible dog ownership and encourages all dog owners to pick up after their pets.
Dog fouling continues to be an issue for the borough with 300 complaints received last year.
The Notice of Motion, proposed by SDLP Councillor Margaret-Anne McKillop and seconded by her party colleague Councillor Orla Beattie, received unanimous support at the Environmental Service Committee.
Cllr McKillop said: “Dog fouling has become an increasing problem and at times a controversial issue across all of the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough.
“It’s one of the biggest complaints from the general public and from responsible dog walkers. At present there is an increase in walking due to the pandemic and walking has become a lifeline to all of our residents and we are so lucky we get to live in such a beautiful area but unfortunately, this has led to an increase in dog fouling also. By signing up to this scheme it’s a small step to tackling the dog dirt problem.”
DUP Alderman John Finlay said he was grateful for the motion, adding: “I have to say dog fouling is very rife. The council doesn’t seem to be doing anything about to try and stop those responsible. We don’t have bad dogs, we just have bad owners.”
Bryan Edgar, Head of Service Environmental Services gave members details of the fixed penalties for the last financial year.
“Right across the borough for littering and dog fouling in 2020 there were 12 fixed penalties issued 10 of which were paid,” he said. “Two were outstanding and had to go to court and for dog fouling, in particular, there were eight issued and seven paid.”
The council brought a successful prosecution last week when a Portstewart man was found guilty at Ballymena Magistrates Court of failing to remove his dog’s foul. The offence was witnessed by an employee of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.
The dog owner was issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice of £80 for failing to remove the dog foul. It was not paid and legal proceedings were subsequently instigated against the dog owner for the offence.
The man was fined £150 and ordered to pay £124 in legal costs.
The motion to introduce the Green Dog Walkers Scheme was passed unanimously.