For those readers of this blog who haven’t been in Penarth recently, you’ll be the only ones not to know it’s dog turd season again. Not that there’s much of a closed season, but recently either you’ve needed to be as fleet of foot as Robbie Savage or you’ve ended up doing a Torvill and Dean.
We all know that there’s no such thing as a bad dog, just bad owners. And I’m guessing that 95% plus of dog owners are genuinely decent human beings who clean up the mess their dogs leave behind. But there’s a small minority of scumbags who seem to think it’s ok for other people to tread in their dog’s excrement, traipsing it into their houses and via the carpet and toys into the mouths of their loved ones. And for those of you who think that dog mess is disgusting solely because of its stench and ability to get smeared just about everywhere, you’ll be interested to read all about toxocariasis.
Blog reader GC describes a situation when a set of dog eggs was laid right outside his front door. He contacted the cleansing department not once, but four times on separate days to request it be cleaned up. Such was the inaction that he eventually contacted his local councillor plus the Council leader – and it was only following this petitioning that the mess was cleared.
I guess that GC is reasonably switched on to how things are dealt with and knew the political buttons to press. Certainly his comment that failure to clear up the mess would result in “the contents of my email all over the Penarth Times” seems to have struck a chord. But how about everyone else in town? Is it fair that some people get this preferential treatment while others end up having to wallow in piles of dog mess?
For the record, I don’t think that the local authority should be cleaning up dog fouling from the streets. But they should be ensuring that enforcement takes place. After all, is it any surprise that people allow their dogs to foul willy-nilly if there have been just three prosecutions in the entire Vale of Glamorgan since 2008*?
But let’s think more creatively about this. If we want the council to be enforcing, we’ll be paying for officers to spend an awful lot of time standing around twiddling their thumbs. But if we can provide the enforcement team with the evidence they need to prosecute, enforcement will be much more efficient. Most people nowadays have got cameras and/or video on their phones. We need to be filming these disgusting specimens (owners, not dogs) as they let their pets foul Penarth, identifying the owner and pet and sending the evidence in to the Vale Council for prosecution. For anyone who wants to bag a criminal but let someone else do the work, send your videos to penartharbyd[a]gmail.com. I promise to send them on to people who can and will prosecute, and I’ll be delighted to publicise the resulting prosecutions on this blog.
There’s a postnote to this story. GC was told by Vale officials that dog fouling is ordinarily only cleared as a component of litter when there’s lots of litter around. This leads to the bizarre situation that the only way to guarantee that dog mess is cleared from your part of the street is to ensure that there’s mountains of litter in the same area. I don’t advise people go about tipping their bins on the street to get dog fouling cleared, but it does highlight a presumably unintended loophole in the legislation. Perhaps our masters down at Barry Docks can clarify exactly how much litter needs to be blowing around the streets before they’ll order their officials to get on their hands and knees scraping dog filth from the pavement.
* Vale of Glamorgan Environmental Health figures for dog fouling:
Year 2007/08: 9 Notices issued of which 6 were paid a total of £450:00
The other 3 were prosecuted with a) Case withdrawn as dog had been sold
b) Found guilty in absence and fined £150:00 c) Fined £95:00 with costs of £40:00
Year 2008/09: 3 Notices issued all paid a total of £225:00
Year 2010/11: No issues