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Operation Early Bird upping the ante against irresponsible dog owners

Published: Wed 31 October, 2018

Jackie sykes talks to a waste collection team about the dog watch scheme 2

Waste collection teams, park staff and street cleaners will help to be the eyes and ears of the council in the battle against dog fouling.

In recent weeks North West Leicestershire District Council’s Ruth Mulvany and Jackie Sykes, from the environmental protection team, have been rising early to join other council staff on their morning rounds.

As part of Operation Early Bird, they’ve been divvying out special Dog Watch high-vis jackets to the teams and teaching them how to spot and report irresponsible owners for dog fouling offences.

The council sees an increase in dog fouling in autumn every year as some owners use the darker winter months to provide cover for not picking up after their dog.

The project has coincided with the clocks changing, with Ruth and Jackie also speaking to members of the public out and about in the mornings to raise awareness of dog fouling and how to report it.

Ruth said: “We have staff across the district every day doing a variety of jobs and it makes real sense for them to help spread our Dog Watch message. 

“Seeing the high-vis jackets will just remind dog owners of their responsibilities and that our staff have their eyes peeled at all times of the day.” 

One of the biggest difficulties with dog fouling is identifying those responsible and catching them in the act of failing to clear up the mess. Having extra staff alert to the issue will increase the likelihood of spotting the culprits. 

Recent new laws have also made enforcement simpler by making it an offence for pet owners to simply not carry dog muck bags – something else teams out in the district will be on the lookout for. 

Jackie said: “We’ve had lots of support in the last couple of weeks and we know that the general public and all the responsible dog owners are fully behind us – after all it’s often them that end up stepping in the muck left behind by lazy owners! 

“On a weekly basis our bin collection crews visit the whole district, following the same routes. They see the same people and are aware of problem areas for dog fouling. If they think someone isn’t cleaning up after their dogs or carrying dog muck bags they will report back to us so we can investigate. 

“The message to those who don’t clean it up is to change your behaviour now or risk being caught.” 

NWLDC is able to issue fines of £100 for dog fouling or not carrying dog muck bags. Should a fine go unpaid then the matter could go to the magistrates’ court where the maximum fine is £1,000. 

Councillor Alison Smith MBE, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Community Services at NWLDC, said: “This is a really simple way for us to raise the profile of our Dog Watch campaign and show people that we take the issue seriously. 

“Prevention and education is crucial in tackling dog fouling and we believe a more visible campaign will help people get the message that this won’t be tolerated in our district. 

“It’s important to remember that all members of public and all the law-abiding dog owners out there can also be our eyes and ears by reporting irresponsible owners to us.” 

The easiest way to report dog fouling is online at

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