Dog fouling is an issue that affects every community the length and breadth of East Ayrshire.
Tougher penalties are coming for irresponsible dog owners who refuse to pick up after their dogs. From Friday 1 April fixed penalties are being increased from £40 to £80 across Scotland.
In East Ayrshire the Corporate Enforcement Unit (CEU) is out carrying out enforcement initiatives in all our towns and villages and issuing fines to those caught not picking up after their dogs.
The Council’s Outdoor Amenities team is out picking up dog waste in parks and open spaces, doing the job that some dog owners are just not willing to do themselves.
Free dog waste bags are available from John Dickie Street, Kilmarnock; Rothesay House, Cumnock; Dalmellington Area Centre, Galston customer service centre and Stewarton Area Centre.
And local dog owners are supporting these activities by talking openly about the importance of being a responsible dog owner.
Jeff and Lynn Keast, and their West Highland terriers Skye and Reuben, joined Councillor Tom Cook, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Equalities and local member, at Lindsay Park in Crosshouse to discuss the problem they have experienced with irresponsible dog owners.
Jeff Keast of Crosshouse Boys Club said: “As secretary of Crosshouse Boys Club I am acutely aware of the problems that irresponsible dog owners cause to their communities. My wife Lynn and I have to inspect Lindsay Park prior to any training or game and pick up any dog waste that we find.
“On one occasion we had to pick up 27 dog poos before the football game could go ahead and this isn’t unusual. We witness people letting their dogs run around the park and they make absolutely no attempt to pick up after their dogs and this just isn’t acceptable.
“If you have a dog you have to pick up after it. It is really that simple. Would you like your child to come home from football training or even playing at the park covered in dog waste? No one would want this and there is an easy solution, please just pick up after your dog.”
Councillor Tom Cook said: “It isn’t acceptable not to pick up after your dog and irresponsible dog owners will face a large fine if they are caught by our enforcement team.
“In a perfect world we wouldn’t have to issue fines and carry out enforcement activity. People would act responsibly without being told that they have to or under threat of financial penalty.
“The Council is working with the local community to tackle irresponsible dog owners. Please don’t approach irresponsible dog owners yourself. Gather as much information as you can, especially if it is someone you see on a regular basis. Report them to the CEU on 01563 553520 and they will take enforcement action against the individual.”
Jeanette Barbour from Crosshouse Community Council said: “The Community Council in Crosshouse receive complaints and comments regarding dog fouling at almost every meeting.
“All dog owners have a legal responsibility to clean up after their dog at all times. I know there are many responsible dog owners in our village but it is obvious there are some who just don’t care and don’t clean up after their dogs.
“However, there are also some who do pick up but they then dispose of the bagged waste by throwing it into the nearest hedgerows as they continue their walk out into the countryside instead of putting this into the bins provided in and around the village, or taking it home for disposal.
“Dog mess on our pavements and football parks and play areas looks disgusting and is a nuisance but just as bad is bagged dog waste hung on bushes or thrown down field embankments. This certainly does not give a good image of our village it is a dreadful eyesore but more importantly a dangerous health hazard.
“Please clean up after all of your dogs and lets all take pride in the appearance of our village and the beautiful countryside which surrounds us.”