This week The Buteman is launching a campaign aiming to bring an end, once and for all, to the scourge of dog fouling on the island.
Following a post by Nigel Sutherland last week on our Facebook page, we invited our readers to nominate particular problem areas - and have had no shortage of suggestions, with many parts of the town centre and outlying areas of the town all identified as places where dog owners frequently fail to clean up after their pets.
We’ve spoken this week to Argyll and Bute Council’s local Streetscene officer, Jim Ferguson, who is one of two council employees able to enforce dog fouling legislation on Bute.
“Myself and Hugh McCormack can now enforce all dog laws, including the Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act and the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act,” Jim said.
“If you don’t pick up your dog mess immediately you risk a fine of £40, rising to £60 if it’s not paid within a couple of weeks.
“If you contest it in court you could end up with a fine of £500 and a criminal record.”
It’s also easier than ever for members of the public to report dog fouling incidents. The law says you don’t need a corroborating witness, and if you’re willing to make a statement to the council about what you’ve seen, enforcement action can be taken against the dog owner responsible.
Even if you’re reluctant to give a statement, the owner can still be warned.
The council also has plans to increase the number of employees on Bute who can enforce the dog fouling legislation, making the chances even higher that the culprits will be caught.
Bags can be bought from the authority’s environmental services office at 110 High Street in Rothesay, at £1.20 for 50 bags, and from local shops.
Inspector Gordon Anderson, Strathclyde Police’s senior officer on Bute, said that while dog fouling penalties were a civil matter and police were not legally allowed to enforce the legislation, officers could and did report incidents and problem areas to council officials to enable action to be taken.
Inspector Anderson added: “Although the police don’t issue fixed penalties for dog fouling, we can submit cases to the procurator fiscal regarding dog fouling, so we do have the power to report offenders for offences and will continue to do so.”
All of which means there really is no excuse any more for not cleaning up after your dog, or for reporting those you see failing to do it. So with Easter only three weeks away and visitor numbers on the island steadily increasing, please give your support to what is, after all, a very simple goal: to bring an end to the smelly, unsightly and completely unnecessary scourge of dog fouling on Bute.