Dog mess complaints treble in five years but Sheffield council fines just ten pet owners
Sheffield's dog-fouling hot spots have been revealed, with streets and parks in the S6 and S5 postcode areas the worst affected.
Sheffield Council received 131 complaints about dog mess last year from within the S6 postcode area, over 50 more than in S5 - covering areas including Firth Park, Parson Cross and Shiregreen - which was next in the table with 80.
Of course, it is impossible to say whether the problem is actually worse in the areas with most complaints or if people living there are just more willing to report the issue.
But on a stroll through Walkley we found no shortage of either dog mess or Sheffielders disgusted by the nuisance.
On South Road, where you had to keep your eyes on the pavement to avoid coming a cropper, Peter Rhodes expressed his exasperation.
“This road’s terrible for dog muck. It’s a health hazard, especially for children, who can be blinded,” he said.
“It really gets you down. I think the council could spray warning messages on the ground, like you see elsewhere, because at least that might make dog owners think.”
Roger Anthonies, a retired plumber, aged 66, said: “We have a dog and we always clean up after it but you have to look where you’re walking round here.”
Parsonage Crescent, in Walkley, generated five complaints to the council last year – behind only Cadman Street, in Mosborough.
There was no dog mess in sight this week, but there were plenty of warning signs attached to lampposts and one infuriated householder had attached a poster to his railings with a pair of glaring eyes and the message ‘we’re watching you’.
Ruth Leigh, who was walking there with her children Edie, aged two, and Martha, one, said: “I’m forever cleaning dog mess off the pram. It’s so bad Edie can memorise where poo is and where it used to be.
“I think most dog owners do clear up after their pets and there are probably only two or three who don’t. There used to be more bins but there aren’t many around here.”
Despite the growing number of complaints, some residents said dog mess was less of a problem than it used to be.
Amy Hope, of Walkley, recalled regularly coming home with dog mess on her shoes when she used to walk on the Bolehills as a child.
“Compared to when I was growing up I don’t think it’s that bad, but maybe that’s just relative,” said the 31-year-old academic researcher.
“I guess there aren’t that many dog poo bins outside of the parks. Having more of them might be beneficial.”
In Upperthorpe, dog owner Helen Neale said she always picks up her dog’s dirt and is disgusted by owners failing to do so.
“People want to live in a community but that means working for a community as well as having the advantages. One of the things you do for your community is to keep it tidy,” she said.
Failing to clean up immediately after your dog in public is a crime and can land owners a £50 on-the-spot penalty or see them prosecuted and fined up to £1,000.
A Sheffield Council spokesman said it recognised dog fouling was a concern for many in Sheffield, which is why it sent almost twice as many letters last year as over the previous 12 months to those suspected of failing to clean up after their pets.
“Although the number of fixed penalty notices issued has remained static for the last three years, this is simply because in order to issue such a notice, we need to witness the incident first-hand,” he added.
“It is not the best use of public money, particularly in times of austerity, to have officers constantly patrolling the streets in order to try and catch irresponsible dog owners in the act.
“It is good to see more people are reporting incidents of dog fouling and we would like to continue encouraging them to do so. Such reports enable us to build evidence and send warning letters to those responsible.”
He added that the council had introduced signs at dog-fouling hot-spots, and would be working with schools from September to educate children on the matter and on other environmental issues.Most gripes came from within the S6 postcode, specifically Walkley.