A £100 fine for dog-owners who do not pick up their pet’s poops might help solve an intractable problem, council convener Sandy Cluness has suggested.
The £40 fixed penalties are not working with just two issued in Shetland so far this year and three last year because offenders are proving hard to catch.
The unusual tactic of spraying offending dog turds pink was tried last year, at least raising awareness of the persistent problem and involving responsible dog owners and others in trying to persuade the offending minority to comply with the law.
The council’s latest effort to tackle the scourge of pavements and public areas is the month-long Dogwatch campaign which encourages people in badly fouled areas to report the offenders they see failing to do their duty. Other dog owners will also hand out poop bags to those who break the law.
The campaign, which will involve community councils throughout Shetland, will include high-profile clean-ups of bad areas along with poster and sticker campaigns.
Environmental health officer Elaina Leach told the infrastructure committee on Tuesday dog fouling was a real priority for her department because so many people are annoyed by bad owners.
She agreed to look into whether the convener’s £100 fines could legally be considered, perhaps through a local bye-law.
Councillor Rick Nickerson said research showed the same people who leave dog poop also throw litter. They simply did not respect others or the environment.
The council hopes the renewed efforts to expose the culprits will get results. “If irresponsible dog owners believe that there is more chance that they will be seen, reported and be fined for dog fouling then this may change their behaviour,” stated a report on the matter.
Vice-convener Josie Simpson asked whether horses could be added to the list because they caused a bigger mess than dogs, prompting Mrs Leach to point out that dog mess spreads disease.
Chairwoman Iris Hawkins favoured spraying the dogs pink rather than their mess.
Councillor Gussie Angus, weary of all the failed efforts, said: “In 15 years I’ve been the dog shit candidate for central Lerwick and I can’t say there’s been any improvement.”