“LAZY” dog owners should not be allowed to keep their pets if they cannot be bothered to clear up after them, a senior Swansea councillor has said.
Leader of the opposition Chris Holley said it was impossible for enforcement officers to catch the minority of people who did not pick up their dog’s mess, given the number of dogs in the county.
Between January 2018 and January 2019 four fixed penalty notices were issued in Swansea for fouling, compared to 24 in Carmarthenshire, where the council also carried out three prosecutions.
Neath Port Talbot Council has issued 145 fixed penalty fouling notices between 2014 and 2018.
Cllr Holley said: “Unless you educate people, we are going to be here forever and a day.
“It’s not the dogs – it’s the lazy and idle owners who are not prepared to pick it up. They should not be allowed to have dogs.”
The Lib-Dem councillor was speaking in a scrutiny meeting about environmental enforcement.
A small number of council officers and a private enforcement company called 3GS can issue dog fouling fines in Swansea.
Councillor Jeff Jones said: “Why are the figures so low compared to other areas?”
Swansea’s head of waste management Chris Howell replied: “We have three of four enforcement officers – we can’t do everything.”
Like all environmental crimes, dog fouling needs to be witnessed and reported.
Cabinet member for environment, councillor Mark Thomas, said he had known several instances of people who had photographed dog owners not picking up mess, but who were reluctant to give evidence in court later.
“An awful lot of people say, ‘I want to keep out of it’,” he said.
Councillors expressed exasperation at owners who left poop bags on or under dog bins, or even chucked them in hedges.
“How do you legislate against that?” said Cllr Thomas.
Photographs of several overflowing dog bins in Swansea were posted on social media last month. There are around 500 of them around the county, and dog owners are advised to notify the council if they are full and not leave bagged mess around them.
The mess can go in residents’ black bin bags.
Councillor Phil Downing asked if officers would pick up dog mess if told about it.
“Yes,” said Cllr Thomas. “But it’s not necessarily something we would do that day.”
Swansea’s waste enforcement team leader Fran Williams told the scrutiny working group that the council could not enforce dog fouling on certain types of land, such as woodland, agricultural, grazed and common land. This, she said, included some cliff paths.
Ms Williams also reminded owners not to walk their dogs on beaches covered by the May 1 to September 30 ban.
Newton councillor Will Thomas said he’d heard that an owner had been spoken to but not fined for doing just that at Langland beach.
Ms Williams said there was a woman at Langland who had been walking seven dogs on the beach during the ban.
“She’s not doing it any more,” she said.
“There have been a lot of altercations with people down there.”