| 13.1°C Dublin

Just three fines paid in five years for dog mess

DUBLIN'S anti-dog fouling laws may be strengthened after it emerged only three fines have been paid in five years.

Dublin City Council has only issued 17 fines for the offence since 2007, despite the prevalence of dog littering throughout the capital.

Just three of those penalties have been paid, the council said.

It pointed to the difficulties in enforcing section 22 of the Litter Pollution Acts, which covers the offence.

As a result, waste management services in conjunction with a number of local authorities met to discuss amendments to the laws.

The talks focused on the need to strengthen section 22 so that the dog licence holder is fined, not just the person in charge of the animal.

This would allow the owners of unaccompanied dogs to be prosecuted, the council said.

It was also recommended that it should be made an offence for the person in charge of a dog not to carry a poop-scoop.

The information was provided to Labour councillor Michael O'Sullivan who asked how many fines had been issued for dog fouling in the past five years.

Mr O'Sullivan also wanted to know what legislative changes would be helpful in order to assist in ensuring the "city streets are kept free of this unhygienic and unsightly material".

In the period 2005 to 2009, some 100 dog-litter bins were installed and around 5,000 anti-dog fouling signs were erected throughout Dublin.

Five locations were chosen to highlight the problem as part of a campaign, including popular dog walking spots like the Sandymount and Clontarf promenades.

The campaign went nationwide, with Dublin City Council officials warning that under the Control of Dogs Act 1989 the Dog Warden Service can seize and impound stray and unaccompanied dogs. Another problem area is Ringsend, according to litter prevention officer Bernie Lillis.

In previous comments, she said the area is considered a "dog fouling blackspot".

Ms Lillis warned that dog litter can carry up to 40 known diseases and children are particularly vulnerable to infection.

Owners who refuse to scoop risk on-the-spot fines of €150 or up to €3,000 if prosecuted.