'It is an epidemic in every town in Ireland' - Councillor calls for stricter dog fouling laws
A Cork councillor has called for stricter dog fouling laws after it was revealed that only four fines have been issued in the county in the past 20 years.
Cllr Ken O'Flynn (FF) said that dog fouling is an "epidemic in every town, city and urban district" in Ireland.
It was revealed by the Irish Examiner that only four dog fouling fines have been issued in Cork in the past 20 years.
All four fines were issued in April and May of last year when Cork City Council ran its Dog Fouling Awareness Campaign, which included art school competitions, the provisions of free dog fouling bags and radio ads.
The council invested €32,571 into the Dog Fouling Committee but Cllr O'Flynn believes that money could be better spent to tackle the problem.
The Fianna Fáil representative suggested that the money could be invested into putting "extra staff on the streets" as there is only one dog inspector employed by the council.
"We don't have a proper, well-organised dog ownership database in the country," he told Newstalk Breakfast.
"The burden of proof is extremely difficult [for the dog inspector]. You'll have people saying 'that's not my dog, I don't own this dog' and how can you prove otherwise?"
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Cllr O'Flynn said that dog fouling has become a major issue for wheelchair users and those wheeling prams.
In February, a woman, who asked not to be named, said she suffered bad bruising to her wrist after slipping on dog waste.
"I slipped on waste, badly injuring my wrist. The Blarney Street area was badly littered with dog waste that day, it was everywhere and unavoidable," she told Independent.ie at the time.
"At the start of the following week I presented at Cork County Council and showed litter staff my bruised and swollen wrist and asked for Blarney Street to be cleaned."
She sent further correspondence to the Council - asking why they do not enforce more fines for the offence.
They responded: "The difficulty in issuing fines lies in the fact that the litter wardens must witness the offence or a member of the public must be willing to come forward as a witness and be willing to give evidence in court."
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Cllr O'Flynn suggested a system whereby each dog should wear a green tag that matches his name and details to a nationwide dog ownership database.
If the dog is spotted without the green tag, his owner would receive an on-the-spot fine.
Cllr O'Flynn believes that in Ireland the attitude to dog fouling was too "relaxed" compared to other European countries.
He said "in mainland Europe you'd have people shouting down the street after you" if you didn't clean up after your dog.