Hotline to let public cry foul on dog-dirt offences
DOG owners beware -- your neighbours are watching to see if you pick up your pet's poo and dispose of it in the bin.
The four Dublin local authorities have launched a hotline urging members of the public to report dog owners who refuse to clean up after their pooch.
On-the-spot fines of €150 can be imposed and the councils have vowed to crack down on offenders as part of a major drive to reduce the amount of dog dirt in parks and on streets.
"Why should people be confronted with dog fouling?" Therese Langan from Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council asked. "Environmentally it's dangerous and it's unpleasant.
"Very few fines were issued last year, maybe 20 fines across the entire county. About 80pc of dog owners pick up after their dog, and that's encouraging. I know this will be stamped out in 10 years because we're promoting it in schools and children are supporting this measure. People can just buy nappy bags, which cost less than 1c, and throw it in the bin."
Callers to the hotline on 1800 251 500 will be asked for the location, time and place of the offence, along with the identity of the dog owner.
However, prosecutions and fines cannot be issued unless they are prepared to make a statement detailing the alleged offence on the record.
Even in cases where the complaint cannot be substantiated, the local authority will analyse the location of alleged offences to see if the problem is pronounced in certain areas. In such cases, litter and dog wardens will be instructed to carry out more patrols.
Apart from the unsightly mess created, there are health risks associated with dog fouling, Dr Sylvester Mooney from the Albany Clinic said.
"Dog faeces contains a lot of bacteria and worms," he said. "The eggs of one particular worm, toxocara canis, can remain present in the environment for ages.
"A survey done a number of years ago found that one in six of 200 samples of dog dirt had these eggs. Children playing in playgrounds put their hands into their mouths and ingest the eggs and in some, rare cases, it can cause blindness.
"There's another bacteria called campylobacter which is a very common cause of food poisoning. So it's really very important that the dirt is picked up."
There are some 30,000 dogs in Dublin, and the public information campaign will include a marketing campaign and events in parks for dog owners.