Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) maintains 422 dog waste bins across the district which are emptied twice a week, but still receives an average of 41 complaints a year from residents experiencing dog fouling issues.
There is no excuse for someone not picking up after a dog in their care. As a nation of animal lovers, it is in everyone’s interest to ensure that owners look after their dogs properly, and that includes respecting the environment and the people that share it.
Dog fouling is a major concern to many people, not just because of the mess it causes, but also because it can be a health risk. When playing near to the ground, children are particularly at risk due to the roundworm eggs (toxocara canis), that can exist in the faeces they deposit.
In the UK there are around 100 cases of toxocariasis diagnosed each year. If the eggs are ingested, it can cause aches, dizziness, nausea, asthma and pneumonia, but as these symptoms can all be caused by other things, infections often go undiagnosed and in extreme cases, eye disease and loss of vision can occur where toxocara larva passes through the eye.
If a dog waste bin is found to be full or overflowing, it can reported via the Council’s online bin report form. If there is no bin nearby, owners must bag the waste and dispose of it at home.
Last year, the Somerset Dog Warden Service reported picking up 60 stray dogs so it is vital that owners ensure their dogs can be identified. Under The Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015 and The Control of Dogs Order 1992, dogs are now legally required to be micro-chipped as well as wearing a collar and tag bearing the name and address of the owner when in a public place.
It is also important that owners ensure they leave their pets with a licensed animal boarding establishment while on holiday. Other businesses offering similar services may not offer the minimum standards required by licensed establishments to comply with by law or be properly insured should something go wrong.
Where owners engage the services of commercial dog walkers, checks should be made to ensure staff are capable of maintaining control of their dogs in public open spaces and to pick up after them whilst in their care.
Educating dog owners is an important part of the work carried out by the Council and helps lessen the need for enforcement action.