A COUNCIL is asking dog-walkers to clean up their act after a rise in the number of complaints about dog fouling in Ruthin.

Denbighshire County Council (DCC) has called on the support of residents in the town to help stamp out problems with dog fouling at the popular Cae Ddol area.

In recent years DCC has been running an education and enforcement campaign, urging people to clean up after their dogs, and to keep dogs away from restricted areas.

The campaign had been successful, with the number of incidents decreasing as people changed their behaviour. However the council says there has been an increase in the number of complaints it has received about dog fouling at Cae Ddol in recent weeks, which has prompted its latest plea.

Cllr Tony Thomas, DCC's cabinet lead member for environment, said: “Not picking up after dogs is anti-social and does have an effect on the cleanliness in the area, as well as posing a risk to health. It’s not a great look and the health risks posed by dog fouling can have serious repercussions for individuals.

“The vast majority of Ruthin residents clean up after their animals and we are grateful for their community spirited actions. They have been fully supportive of the campaign and our messages have been making a difference.

“However, we are targeting a small group of residents or visitors who think it is ok and appropriate to continue flouting the law.

“Keeping streets clean is a priority for the council and has been the cause of the highest number of concerns from residents. Dog mess can be a blight on the landscape and can affect the quality of life for people living in and around the area."

Gavin Harris, deputy mayor of Ruthin, said: “I am aware of the issue and it has been raised by a number of people including many dog walkers. In general as a dog walker myself, I think there has been an improvement in many areas such as Railway Terrace and the vast majority of dog walkers are conscientious and do clear after them.  However there is obviously a minority who are not as responsible and unfortunately - especially in areas near playing fields or play areas, any instance left behind are potentially very serious and generate a lot of anger.

“I suspect winter months might also be worse due to early darkness and fewer people to be around to encourage conscientious behaviour from the irresponsible dog walkers, or also some dogs being let off to run, and an owner not being able to monitor or see what their dog is up to.  Obviously this is irresponsible and not adequate monitoring of their pet so no excuse, but it could contribute to the issue.

“Some dog walkers have contacted me concerned that their use of Cae Ddol as an open area might be constrained due to the complaints, and that whilst they appreciate the issue with the sports pitches, that these sports areas have increased over the years to take more of the fields - thus already reducing areas where dogs can go.

“I would be against any proposals to remove the ability of dog walkers to use the park and wonder if the introduction of some sensitive low level fencing to protect the playing fields and sports pitches might help.  It shouldn’t be required and all walkers should pick up but at least it would ensure the pitches were clean and free of anything.

“I wonder also if similar to what you often see on the continent - but unsure if they are used much in the UK - could be the introduction of a fenced off dog poop area - these are small gated areas with a bark surface that dogs are then happier to use - and then the owner clears up into a bag and bin - could possibly be installed near the entrance car park.

“There will obviously be some debate and discussion of different ideas, but the issue will be added to Ruthin Town Council’s amenities committee meeting in December and we will work with DCC and representatives of all community users to help bring improvements to this situation.”

Anne Roberts, town councillor for Ruthin, said: “Dog fouling has been a problem for some time, especially around playing fields and play areas. DCC should have put something in place before they got rid of Kingdom, that's why there's been an increase, in my view.

“There is nobody to monitor and, more importantly, deal with people not picking up after their pets. There's a policy in place but, again, nobody to enforce it so people know they can get away with causing this nuisance.”