Responsible dog owners who pick up after their pets

The following opinion piece by Councillor Cammy Day appeared in the Edinburgh Evening News on July 4.

Dog fouling is understandably high on people's list of pet hates and is one of the Council's top priorities. In fact, it was highlighted as a major concern across various parts of the city by residents who took part in the most recent Edinburgh People's Survey.

It’s not only anti-social, but it’s also against the law and we can fine people for not cleaning up.

We do a lot of work to tackle this problem, but we’re also supporting a ‘green dog walker’s scheme’, starting in the south of the city.

What it asks people to do is be ambassadors for responsible dog ownership. Obviously, that starts with them picking up after their own dogs but we want them to help others too.

The main way of doing this is by carrying extra poo-bags and being happy to be approached by someone who needs one so they can clean up. To help identify these ambassadors, they’ll be provided with an armband for themselves and a collar for their dog.

There is more to it than this, including awareness raising activity, but essentially it’s about a positive and supportive approach to cleaning up our parks and streets of dog mess.

And there’s certainly no expectation that people should approach anyone who hasn’t cleaned up and challenge them. If dog walkers see other owners who aren’t being responsible then we’d encourage them to report that to the ‘dish the dirt’ hotline on 0300 456 3476.

The way the scheme is rolled out is important too. It is led by community groups, supported by their local environmental warden. This is to help ensure that it’s both a ‘grassroots’ initiative and that dog lovers can be properly briefed on what’s expected of them before they sign a pledge making a commitment to be part of the scheme.

Every area is different, but we know from Falkirk Council, where it was developed, that the benefits can include better cleanliness results, fewer complaints about dog fouling, and positive feedback from the public.

Any community groups interested should contact their local environmental wardens through their neighbourhood office – the details of which are available on our website.

In the meantime, we continue to work with the Evening News and others to help ensure that we promote action against dog fouling, and to appreciate the efforts of those who are responsible and clean up after their pets.

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