DOG walkers in South Derbyshire are being encouraged to become a council’s eyes on the ground and report irresponsible owners who fail to clean up after their pets.
The district council is calling on walkers and members of the public to help its three wardens stamp out what is becoming an increasing problem, while the idea of a ‘dog fouling watch’ scheme being launched, where law-abiding owners can easily relay information, has also been suggested.
Bosses admitted its wardens, who prowl popular walking spots across the district, are struggling to enforce the rules with so many owners choosing to ignore them.
Matt Holford, from the district council’s enforcement team, told members of the public at the latest meeting of Woodville Parish Council: “We target 350 patrols in a year to catch the wrongdoers, but they only last 15 minutes.
“We know 95 per cent are responsible dog owners, but it needs to become culturally abhorrent - it has got to be known this is unacceptable behaviour. Three wardens across South Derbyshire aren’t going to do it by themselves.”
Mr Holford said the authority had considered sending out wardens in plain clothing, but that this was likely to be problematic.
“The courts seem to take a dim view of that. It could be deemed as covert,” he said.
Pat Murray, who represents Woodville on South Derbyshire District Council, said for the idea to get off the ground, there needed to be a forum where people could report details without fear of reprisal, and pledged to put the dog fouling watch scheme to the council.
He believes it could prosper in a similar vein to the police speedwatch campaign, which allows communities to report vehicles breaking the limit.
He said: “People are frightened to speak to them and say ‘pick that up’ as they will get abuse.
“Members of the public need to go out and put a jacket on, so we can increase the numbers of people doing it.
Fellow councillor Paul Dunn added: “It’s not just Woodville, it’s a significant problem across South Derbyshire. We’re all living with it and it’s not acceptable.”