‘Scoop the Poop’ campaign under way across Uttlesford

A campaign has been launched to rid Uttlesford's streets of dog mess.

A campaign has been launched to rid Uttlesford's streets of dog mess. - Credit: Archant

DOGS may be a man’s best friend but for a bunch of mums they’ve become a shoe’s worst nightmare.

Parents and schoolchildren have taken the lead on a campaign to rid Uttlesford’s streets of dog mess after growing “sick and tired” of a problem described as the worst it has ever been by the district council’s animal warden.

Sue Knight said it was up to owners to take responsibility for their dogs and warned of the health dangers dog fouling posed to youngsters, including blindness.

She said: “It is a massive problem across the district – this year has been the worst it has ever been for dog fouling complaints – and I don’t know why. We need to change people’s attitudes and educate them about the health hazards because it’s getting ridiculous now.”

A route used by schoolchildren in Thaxted has been so badly blighted with dog mess pupils have dubbed it ‘Poo Alley’. It is also used by the school to walk youngsters to the nearby woods, but teachers have been forced to follow the route and pick up dog mess beforehand so children don’t step in it.

Mrs Knight added: “It seems to be happening a lot outside schools, including RA Butler in Saffron Walden, Takeley Primary School and Thaxted Primary School, while we have had a lot of complaints about the Common and Saffron Walden town centre.”

Mums of children at RA Butler, instrumental in kick-starting the campaign, are refusing to rollover on the issue.

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One mum, Claire Moir, said: “It is getting out of control now and the more we allow it to continue, the worse it’s going to be in the future. Dog fouling is disgusting and no-one wants to live like that, from a health point of view and also because it’s just not very pleasant.”

She told how parents had been forced to walk in the road on their way to parents’ evening at the end of last year because the pavement was known to be “covered in dog mess” despite it being hidden by the snow.

The campaign will see pupils from schools across the district draw up posters asking dog owners to be more responsible.

Mrs Knight will choose the best ones and these will be laminated and placed throughout Uttlesford.

It comes in the same week the district council issued a warning that it will prosecute dog owners if they fail to clean up after their pets.

“I think it’s great that the mums have come on board because I can’t tackle the problem on my own. But we need everyone else’s help because if we know who’s responsible we can prosecute and we will issue fixed penalty notices,” Mrs Knight explained, before issuing the reminder that coming into contact with dog mess can cause diseases such as toxocara canis, which can lead to blindness.

She added: “The majority of dog owners are only too happy to clean up after their pets using a pooper-scoop and disposable bags – the council has handed out 40,000 of them free in the past year – and there are around 250 dog mess bins throughout the district.

“But a small minority is tarnishing the good name of dog owners by allowing their animals to foul public areas and just walking away.”

The council has the power to issue £75 fixed penalty fines for dog fouling and in cases where it can be proved that dog owners are persistent offenders they can face a fine of up to £1,000.

To report dog fouling, call the council’s customer services centre on 01799 510510 or e-mail uconnect@uttlesford.gov.uk