Pet owners who fall ‘foul’ of environmental legislation by failing to clean up after their dogs are to be targeted by a new initiative, the Green Dog Walkers Project.
Dog fouling is one of the most complained about environmental issues in the Borough and across the whole of the UK.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Enforcement Officers received 307 dog fouling complaints in 2015/16, equal to eight percent of the total service requests received by Environmental Health.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Operational Committee is to be asked to approve a pilot project to create the new Green Dog Walkers Project (GDW) in two areas, Whitehead and Carnfunnock.
Operations Chair Alderman John Carson said the scheme, if approved and ratified by full Council in February, would commence in April 2017 utilising volunteer community groups.
“GDW is a non-confrontational, friendly way to change attitudes about dog fouling.
“Volunteers wear a special GDW armband that identifies them as having pledged to clean up after their own dog; carry extra dog waste bags; be happy to be approached to provide a dog waste bag to others and most importantly, to give a friendly reminder to others to clean up after their pets,” the Alderman said.
GDW is a partnership approach that differs from traditional ways of tacking the problem. The Council provides the funding for armbands, brochures and promotion of the project volunteers alone find hard to achieve.
Addressing the Operations Committee membership, he continued: “It is proposed that two existing volunteer groups be contacted with a view to being part of the pilot project – these are the Carnfunnock Dog Walkers and the Whitehead Wombles.
“Initial contact has already been made and they have confirmed they are interested in finding out more about GDW,” he said.
The project will be supported and delivered in partnership with the six Dog Wardens/Enforcement Officers already working across the Borough and their managers. A one off fee of £500 provides for licences and artwork for campaigns and is to be fully covered by Council – with no cost to volunteers. All other equipment such as armbands and dog leads, collars and other materials will cost Council around £3,000.
Alderman John Carson added: “It is very encouraging that local dog owners are showing the willingness to promote responsible dog ownership.
“We would also like encourage other community groups to come forward - by contacting Environmental Health,” he concluded.
As well as daily patrols during core working hours and targeted patrols in the early hours and late evenings and over weekends Borough Enforcement Officers will also continue to attend community events for talks and presentations as well as visiting schools to underline the importance of dog fouling prevention. This is especially important as part of the ongoing Eco Schools Programme.
If Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Operational Committee approve the GDW pilot project in the two areas, Whitehead and Carnfunnock - and full Council agreement follows - the scheme is anticipated to roll out across other areas of the Borough in due course, subject to the progress of the pilot.