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You back new dog fouling rules

A survey has shown overwhelming public satisfaction with tougher new rules to combat dog walkers who do not clean up after their pets.

A team of Level 2 Public Service students from Boston College joined Boston Borough Council's environmental enforcement officers to undertake the survey to gauge public opinion about the recently-introduced tougher rules on cleaning up after dogs.

They asked the public what they thought about the use of new legislation in the borough requiring dog walkers to show they are equipped to clean up or face the prospect of a £100 fine.

Fines for failing to clean up after a dog, allowing a dog into an enclosed children's play area or refusing to put a dangerous or nuisance dog on a lead have been doubled to £100.

The new powers have been introduced under the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 which allows councils to create a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO).

Public consultation before the new rules were introduced showed that 90 per cent were in favour of it being an offence for dog walkers not to carry a bag or the means at all times to clean up after their dog. And 74 per cent agreed the fine should be £100.

The students' new survey recorded comments from 134 people chosen at random. The vast majority - 94 per cent -  responded positively to the question "what do you think of the new dog controls?" with comments such as "brilliant", "they should clean up after their dogs!", "it's a good idea. Dog owners are responsible", "positive message, making people more responsible for their dogs" and "they should be fined, it is disgusting".

Some called for even bigger fines, up to £200, with comments such as "the bigger the fine the better" and "they should be fined heavily".

There were very few negative comments - three per cent - with one admitting "I don't pick up after my dog". Three per cent were neutral.

A few queried how well the new rules would be enforced. Since the introduction of the tougher laws the council has entered into an agreement with environmental enforcement company 3GS  to add to street patrols and issue fixed penalties to offenders.

3GS officers are salaried and do not receive incentivised pay and the council chose 3GS because of its environmental credentials and commitment to invest in the communities it serves.

Of those who answered the survey questions 36 per cent were dog owners and 48 per cent said there was a problem in their area with people not cleaning up after their dogs.

The borough council was among a handful in the country to be first to use the new enforcement powers to control dog fouling. A number of other local authorities have contacted the council to ask advice about implementation because they have heard about Boston's initiative - some through their own residents' social media comments - and are considering using the same legislation.

Dog poo team from college Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

Students from Boston College planning their public survey. Student Dennis Chmelevskis (17), armed with dog poo bags, said he always cleans up after his German Shepherd dog, Boss. "It's the right thing to do," he said.