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Dog Watch Rural campaign lands national Keep Britain Tidy award nomination

Dog Watch

A successful North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC) campaign designed to educate dog owners on the threats their pets pose to livestock, has received national recognition.

Dog Watch Rural is the latest strand of the council’s Environmental Protection Team’s Dog Watch project, which this year specifically tackled issues faced by the famers in the district.

The project has now been shortlisted for the Campaign of the Year category at the Keep Britain Tidy Network Awards in Brighton next month.

Led by council officers Jackie Sykes and Ruth Mulvany, the main aim of Dog Watch Rural has been to reduce the heartache and financial distress suffered by farmers that lose unborn livestock due to dog fouling on their land.

Cattle and sheep can abort their young after coming into contact with Neospora – a parasite found in dog faeces – leaving farmers’ livelihoods in danger.

NWLDC has introduced  a number of ways to educate dog walkers about the importance of cleaning up dog muck at all times, even in the most rural countryside.

Patrols are being increased in rural areas, trail cameras have been installed and new posters are displayed in popular dog walking areas in an effort to raise awareness and catch the culprits.

It is hoped the scheme will help change the behaviour of dog owners and support farmers in protecting their livestock.

Clare Proudfoot, Environmental Protection Team Manager at NWLDC, said: “I’m immensely proud of the team and the work they have done on our Dog Watch scheme. They are making a real difference in our community and the positive feedback we’ve had from farmers this year shows this. Well done Jackie and Ruth.”

Councillor Alison Smith MBE, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Community Services at NWLDC, said: “Congratulations to the team on being shortlisted for this national award. I was out with Jackie and Ruth speaking to farmers earlier this year – and there is no doubt that this is a worthwhile and successful scheme that is worthy of recognition.”

Moira farmer Robert Pope said: “I think this a good scheme that is helping people to understand this issue that farmers are facing. We have dog walkers that go to the trouble of picking up the muck in a bag, but then they throw it into hedges, and they think that is ok. We don’t mind owners walking their dogs at all – there are lots of public footpaths that we’re happy to see used. Please do come with your dogs but keep them on a lead and pick up their mess.”

The team will find out if they have won in the Campaign of the Year category when they head to the Keep Britain Tidy Network Awards night in Brighton on Thursday 8 February.

Find out more about the Dog Watch scheme.

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