Anti-dog dirt campaign: Backing for News drive

Finn Walker, captain of Redpath Albion U-10s, with the special shovel. Picture: Greg Macvean
Finn Walker, captain of Redpath Albion U-10s, with the special shovel. Picture: Greg Macvean
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OUR Dish the Dirt campaign to tackle the menace of dog mess on our streets has got off to a storming start.

Politicians, schoolchildren, parents and even dog-walkers have been in touch to share their support for the crackdown. The joint campaign with the city council, featuring a new hotline to report irresponsible dog owners who treat our streets and parks like an open sewer, was launched yesterday.

Call our hotline to report dog fouling: 0300 4563476

Midlothians get involved with our campaign

Sighthill and Gorgie top dog mess complaints list

Getting dog owners to clean up without confrontation

Evening News launches anti-dog dirt campaign

The line – as advertised by Buster the dog – is now live so you can report the offenders. We’ve already been inundated with calls and emails asking for posters to stick up around the city.

Children who face a daily dodge on their walk to school, football teams who have to clear their pitches of dog mess before playing and city councillors who are bombarded with complaints have all backed our drive. It shows why dog-dirt strewn streets, parks and play areas are the number one bugbear of thousands of people across the Lothians.

With your help, we can tackle this dirty nuisance head on, and work with the city council to target the minority of irresponsible dog owners responsible.

Council officials are standing by to take your calls and want to know precisely where and when this is happening so they can target them in a new blitz.

They will use your tips to target the lazy few who are breaking the law and hit them with £40 on-the-spot fines.

Over the coming days and weeks, the Evening News will be revealing the worst affected areas and speaking to locals already waging war on the filthy few. Throughout the campaign, we will keep our readers updated on calls to the hotline and any action taken.

Tomorrow, we will be looking at what you can do to help encourage pet owners to be 
responsible. In the meantime you can follow the campaign online at edinburghnews.com, on our Facebook site at facebook.com/edinburgh.evening.news and on Twitter by tweeting @edinburghpaper with the hashtag #dishthedirt.

Our game’s simply ruined by foul play

A FOOTBALL club says it has to deal with foul play even before their matches kick-off.

Redpath Albion have to clear up several piles of dog mess prior to every game and training session.

The problem has become so endemic the coaches have a special spade to shovel the muck out of the way.

Bryan Maughan, chairman of the club which has teams ranging from the under-tens to adults, said it was embarrassing when they host other teams.

He said: “There’s never a game goes by without the opposition pointing something out we’ve missed, it’s embarrassing.

“It’s a popular park, there’s as many dogs who use it as people, and unfortunately there’s the few that don’t pick up after them. It’s up to us to get the spade out before matches and go looking for it and it doesn’t take long to find.

“We have to do it so kids don’t get their kits messed up. It’s happened plenty of times before.”

The club, which was established in 1958, has played on the Pilrig Park pitches since 1994 after moving from Leith. Training sessions or games take place every day but Bryan said the issue was particularly bad over the weekend.

He has appealed to the offending few dog owners to do the right thing and clear up after their animals. “The thing that annoys us the most is that the pitches are clearly marked and the residents must understand that it’s kids using them. Some let their dogs run ahead so they can’t even see where they’ve gone by the time they get there.“It’s such a good community park that it’s a real shame it keeps happening.”

Dog poo alley is no laughing matter

A PATH leading to one primary school has been nicknamed “dog poo alley” by youngsters at the school.

Piles of dog dirt litter the walkway to Woodburn Primary in Dalkeith with dozens in the space of a few metres. Bags containing dog mess are also regularly hung from the trees flanking the path.

Susan Wright, whose five-year-old son Archie attends the school, is furious with owners after her two-year-old daughter Mollie took a tumble in it.

“I smelt it on the buggy at first which was nasty enough. Then Mollie fell over. I thought it was mud at first but then I realised it wasn’t. She was covered in it, it was horrible. We had to turn around and go home to get her cleaned up and I had to phone the school to say we were late. It’s on the path and at the sides on the grass verge. But you know what kids are like, they don’t run in a straight line.

“I have to say ‘don’t climb there’ or ‘don’t run on there’ because of all the poo. My biggest concern is for the children and their safety. It’s dangerous if they’re falling in it.”

Stephen Riedie, head of parent council at the school, said it was a problem, not just on that path, but in areas surrounding the school. He said the school was thinking of asking the children to draw posters about cleaning up after the animals.

“I think it’s the only way as a school we can go forward on the issue. We don’t have any say about the council budget in terms of wardens but a message from the children might help to make people pick it up.”

Walker on the wild side of life

LICENSED dog walker William Kerr likes to lead by example.

He takes his own dogs, and the ones he walks for others, on long treks across the city.

And he always ensures he has a plentiful supply of plastic bags so he can pick up after his pooches – as well as often picking up other dogs’ mess.

The animal-lover, who runs William’s Dog Walking, said dog dirt being left strewn on the street or in the park was a pet hate of his.

He says it is everyone’s responsibility to keep the Capital’s walkways, parks and streets clean.

He said: “I’m a responsible dog walker but I do understand that there’s a small percentage that are not good.

“If I’ve seen one of my dogs pooing then I’ll bag it and bin it. It annoys me when people don’t pick up dog mess.

“People know that I walk dogs so if I see mess, even if it’s not from the dogs I’m walking, I would rather pick it up than have someone think ‘it’s Billy and his dogs’.”

The ex-soldier, of East Claremont Street, has golden retriever Monty, 13, and Labrador cross Kylo, three, who is a rescue dog. He is registered to take other dogs for walks and makes use many of the city’s parks – responsibly of course.

St Mark’s Park and Pilrig Park are two of his nearest but he walks the animals much more extensively, treading carefully the whole time.

“I’ve stopped traffic before when Monty has gone in the middle of the road,” he said.

“I’ve stopped, trying to pick his poo up, and people have been shouting to leave it but it’s just one of those things I do. If I could encourage everyone else to do it that would be great.”

William said he supported the campaign and hopes the minority of irresponsible dog owners will take note. He also called for people who had made the effort to bag it, to bin it, rather than leaving it hanging from trees or fences.

“My favourite park is Holyrood and Arthur’s Seat. My favourite walk is to Cramond but that takes a day as it’s an hour-and-a-half there and the same back.

“You can walk all the way to Corstorphine from the centre and it is a beautiful route. I

can’t reiterate enough how beautiful Edinburgh is if you just get off your backside and go for a walk.

“I didn’t realise this until I started walking dogs about five years ago.

“If we can assist to keep it beautiful then I think we should. The council do a good job but it is not all down to them.”

It’s your call to clamp down on problem

So how can you help?

• Call Buster on 0300 4563476 to Dish the Dirt on offenders. Basic details are fine but the more information that can be given in terms of times, location, vehicles used, descriptions of the dogs and/or owners responsible will help the council to try to identify the culprits and take appropriate enforcement action.

• All reports will be treated as confidential but updates on action taken will only be possible if contact information is left in the message.

• Calls to 03 numbers cost no more than a standard national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and must count towards any inclusive minutes on landline or mobiles.

• Help us promote the campaign by displaying a Dish the Dirt poster. To receive your free poster e-mail kate.pickles@edinburghnews.com.