Daventry District Council votes through tougher rules for dog walkers

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Councillors have approved proposals to introduce new powers in Daventry district that target irresponsible dog owners.

Daventry District Council last night (Thursday, October 1) agreed to introduce a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), which will give its enforcement officers broader powers to deal with dog owners who fail to properly control their pets in public open spaces across the district.

The PSPO will come into force district-wide on December 1 2015 and will introduce a new offence requiring dog walkers to carry a poop bag or other means for clearing up after their pet.

It will mean council enforcement officers can ask dog owners to produce the means by which they intend to clean up after their pet, with those unable to risking a £100 fine and potentially prosecution.

Last night’s decision by Daventry District Councillors followed a 10-week public consultation this summer, which showed overwhelming support for the proposal by residents and local groups.

Officers will initially focus on raising public awareness and educating dog owners about the new offences to residents before fully exercising the new powers in January 2016.

The council currently enforces three dog control orders that make it an offence for people to fail to pick up after their dog, allow their dog into a designated children’s play area and to fail to put their dog on a lead when directed to do so by a council officer.

Those rules will remain under the PSPO, to be joined by the new offences from December 1. These also include requiring people to keep their dogs on leads in the area around the visitor centre at Daventry Country Park.

Cllr Mike Warren, health and housing porfolio holder on Daventry District Council, said: “This order will give us greater powers to take effective action against the minority of dog owners who do not pick up after their pets.

“Once introduced in December, our priorities will be to raise awareness of the new powers among local communities and to educate dog walkers about the issues.

“We will be advising them to make sure they have extra poop bags with them at all times to ensure they have the means to pick up, regardless of how long they’ve been out and about with their pet.

“These new powers are not intended to penalise the many responsible dog owners in our district, who should be assured that our officers will be taking a common-sense approach on their patrols. It’s not unreasonable though, for example, to expect someone who has just arrived at a venue to walk their dog to be carrying poop bags.”

The new powers follow a number of initiatives in recent years to tackle the problem of dog fouling. These include a paint spraying initiative, under which volunteers are provided with cans of brightly-coloured paint to spray on dog mess in a bid to shock irresponsible owners into cleaning up after their pets. Earlier this year the council also launched joined the ‘We’re Watching You’ campaign, featuring glow-in-the-dark posters to target night-time offenders.