Fines for owners who don’t clean up after dogs

Fines for dog mess
Fines for dog mess
Fly-tipping in Harold Road. Picture: Andrew Pearce

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ON-THE-SPOT fines will be handed out to irresponsible dog owners as of July 1.

Portsmouth City Council has set up Dog Control Orders, under which anyone who fails to clean up after their dog, or allows it off the lead in certain places, can be fined £75.

Dog wardens and council officers will issue the fines, but experts in the city fear the measures could cause an increase in dog violence.

Russell Becque, a canine behaviour specialist who runs Portsmouth and district dog training club, said: ‘I understand why the orders are being made, but it’s a shame. Everyone agrees there’s a responsibility for owners to clear up after their dogs, but a small group’s ruining things for the majority of responsible owners. Banning dogs from some places reduces the space they have. They have to run off excess energy. When they can’t, that can lead to aggression.’

The orders will replace dog control byelaws, under which people were taken to court if they broke regulations.

The council’s senior enforcement officer Stewart Lennard said: ‘They bring all the previous rules under one umbrella. They’re a much quicker, cheaper way of enforcing the rules, as we can issue the £75 spot fines, where before we had to take people to court to fine them up to £1,000.’

Under the orders, dog owners must clear up after their pet.

Dogs will also be banned from being in certain areas, including children’s play areas, and Southsea beach from March to October.

And the controls also mean officers can order dogs to be put on the lead.

Mr Lennard explained: ‘The exclusion orders are for sensible reasons. In children’s play areas everyone agrees dogs shouldn’t be allowed, and in graveyards letting a dog run free could result in it urinating or defecating on graves. But these aren’t just orders restricting animals. For example, Southsea’s bandstand will be a place where dogs can run off the lead, where previously they have had to be on the lead, and Castle Field will be the same.’

In some places, dogs will be able to run off the lead at some times of the year and not others. At Tangier Field, Baffins, for example, they will have to be on the lead in winter, when Brent geese use the area.

Mr Lennard said: ‘Signs will be put up in every location, and our officers will tell people the rules. It’s important to look at the signs, to see what the specific rules are. But we know some of these are new things, and in those cases our officers will let people know. We consulted with dog owners on this, and these are sensible rules.’