Dog walkers in Barnstaple’s Rock Park were the subject of a council operation to cut down on dog mess yesterday (Tuesday).
North Devon Council’s environment team held the first of a series of planned operations in the district designed to crack down on dog owners who don’t pick up after their pets.
It started with dog mess in the park being highlighted with fluorescent spray paint, before looking out for potential offenders and talks with dog owners.
The council’s executive member for the environment, Councillor Rodney Cann, said: “I was personally shocked by how much dog mess we found but this is just a snapshot of the problem we face across North Devon.
“Our enforcement team will be continuing this work in other problem areas around the district and we hope that raising awareness will send out a clear message to those dirty dog owners who don’t think dog mess is their problem.
“We hope it also reassures the public that something is being done to tackle the issue.
“One of the things we noticed on the day is how many dog owners exercise their dogs on the sports pitches – we would prefer you to keep dogs off this area of the park completely, as the pitches are in frequent use by many people, including children and it really isn’t fair for the grass to be soiled by dogs.”
The council’s environment team will return to the park in a few weeks to see if the spray paint has deterred further fouling.
Dog fouling is the latest issue being addressed as the council’s Clear Messages campaign, which is being run in association with the North Devon Gazette.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of environmental issues such as littering, fly-tipping and responsible dog ownership.
Local member for Barnstaple’s Newport ward, Councillor John Mathews, said: “It’s a pity that a small number of irresponsible dog owners spoil the pleasure that Rock Park gives to so many people by allowing their dogs to foul.
“Hopefully today will raise awareness of the problem.”
Failure to clean up after your dog can result in a fixed penalty notice of £80, with a maximum fine of £1,000.
Dog fouling can be reported online, by phoning the council on 01271388270 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The council has already used biodegradable spray paint in Braunton to highlight issues with dog poo and said it had seen significant results.