Community Dog Fouling


A Community Problem

You have no doubt heard the expression ‘the few spoiling it for the many’ and this couldn’t be a truer statement when talking about dog fouling in public spaces.

The overwhelming majority of dog owners are responsible and pick up their dogs mess. Most dog owners accept it’s their responsibility! They took this task on knowingly when they first got the dog and will continue to pick up the mess for the lifetime of their pet.

So why don’t some people pick it up?

Many people believe it’s simply laziness and, when a dog owner is perpetually not picking up, this is probably true. There are however occasions when responsible owners will be ‘caught short’ either, thinking that they picked up the poo bags leaving the house but didn’t, or their dog has an unusual poop routine that day and the owner didn’t bring enough bags. This page is discussing the perpetual offender, not the responsible owners mistake.

How to stop the offence

You can take either a soft or hard approach to this. In the spirit of compassion and understanding try speaking to the owner first. If you’re a dog owner yourself offer them a poo bag and just make the assumption that they are not a perpetual offender. It’s difficult for someone to refuse to pick up the mess when they have just been given the tools they need to do it. The perpetual offender might act as a responsible owner on this one occasion though, so keep that in mind if you see the same person not picking up the mess again.

The other harder approach is to catch and fine the owner. This is more difficult to do because local authority officers or constables have to be in the right place, at the right time in order to issue fixed penalties. What many people don’t know however is that, under the Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003, you only need one witness to issue a fixed penalty and this witness can be anyone, it doesn’t have to be a local authority officer or constable. I’ll explain further...

So let’s say you see someone committing the offence and you know who they are. You can report this to the local authority and they can issue a fixed penalty through the post. The recipient is then given a certain period of time to pay the penalty or appeal it. In the vast majority of cases where the offender is guilty, then they will pay it and this usually stops them offending in the future. After all, it’s cheaper to spend a couple of pence per poo bag than £80 per poop.

What happens to the abandoned poop though?

So there it is. Lying on the pavement or in the park and you know it’s only a matter of time until some unsuspecting soul walks along and puts a shoe right in it. Not the best start to anyone’s day!

You could report it to the council in the hope they can get someone out to clear it quickly, but in all reality, what’s the chances of that? With hundreds of abandoned poops and thousands of streets to cover it’s unlikely they will be able to get to it before that unsuspecting soul does.

So what I would advocate, and this is controversial, is pick it up yourself. But why should you? It wasn’t your dog that did it and it’s therefore not your responsibility. I agree, but that response doesn’t actually solve the problem and in any event the person who is responsible, the offender, isn’t going to pick it up anyway so someone else is going to have to.

Why not let it be you?

Do it with a sense of pride knowing that you are going over and above what is required of you as a responsible citizen, you’re helping your local community and prevented that unsuspecting soul’s dreadful start to the day.

Still report the offence, but let the council know that you have already removed it. That way it helps them deploy dog wardens more efficiently by targeting known dog fouling areas.

I know it’s quite a radical, fluffy response to an otherwise horrible situation but do it for your community knowing, that if everyone did it, you and other local residents might never tread in a dog poop again.

Would you adopt this approach in your community?

We'd love to hear your views. As far as we're aware this approach has never been adopted anywhere in the world. Glasgow could become a world leader with this problem and we could even win global recognition and clean city awards (and poop free shoes).

What do you think?