Evening News launches anti-dog dirt campaign

Environmental Warden Josh Hounsell with the Dish The Dirt Evening News campaign posters that encourages the public to report irresponsible dog owners. Picture: Greg Macvean
Environmental Warden Josh Hounsell with the Dish The Dirt Evening News campaign posters that encourages the public to report irresponsible dog owners. Picture: Greg Macvean
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The Evening News has joined forces with Edinburgh City Council to launch the Dish the Dirt campaign to catch more of the pet owners who insist on treating our streets and parks like a toilet.

It is the number one bugbear of tens of thousands across the Lothians. Dog dirt strewn streets and parks where nasty surprises are hidden in the grass. For the first time in years, complaints about dog fouling are on the rise.

And, with an estimated 70,000 dogs in the Lothians, producing 10 tonnes of dirt a day, it is perhaps on wonder that so much ends up where it shouldn’t be.

But the time has come to say enough is enough.

The growing disgust at the filth left behind by lazy pet owners is coming to a head. Gripes about the problem account for a growing proportion of the phone calls, letters and emails received by the Evening News.

• Call our hotline to report dog fouling: 0300 4563476

And the city council now receives an average of five complaints every day - more than anywhere else in the country, and making it the number one moan for Capital residents.

Today, we are asking for your help to fight back against the scourge. Call our hotline on: 0300 4563476

The council’s environmental wardenswork hard to catch offending owners, but it is not always easy to catch them in the act. More than 1000 fines have been handed out recently, but that accounts for only a fraction of the problem.

With your help, we can tackle this disgusting 
nuisance head-on.

A new helpline - featuring no-nonsense Buster the dog - has been set up so you can shop the culprits.

Council officials are standing by to take your calls and want to know precisely where and when repeat offenders are leaving their pets behind, so they can target them in a major new blitz.

The city’s environmental wardens will use all your tips to catch lazy owners in the act - and hit them with £40 on-the-spot fines.

Our joint campaign follows a recent survey by the council which found that while a record number of people hailed the Capital as a good place to live, dog dirt was a constant complaint across the city.

Throughout the campaign, the Evening News will be highlighting the worst affected areas, including sports teams who have to clear the pitch before they can play and school routes which are blighted by dog mess. We will be looking at what you can do to help encourage pet owners to be responsible and speaking to some of those people who are already making a stand in their own communities.

Throughout, we will keep our readers updated on calls to the hotline and action which has been taken.

Posters featuring the Buster logo will be appearing across the city, so keep an eye out - and make a call.

The city council’s vice-convener of health and social care, Councillor Cammy Day, left, said today it was time to put tackling the dog dirt issue at the top of the to-do list.

He said: “Dog fouling was highlighted as a concern by residents in the most recent Edinburgh People’s Survey, so making sure that dog owners clean up after their pets is one of the council’s top priorities.

“Joining forces with the Evening News to run the Dish the Dirt campaign is a great way to raise awareness and to really drive home the message that dog fouling is unacceptable behaviour.

“As well as being anti-social, it is also against the law, and the Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003 gives the council the power to issue on-the-spot fines of £40 to offenders.

“Edinburgh is a beautiful and attractive city, and I urge dog owners to do the responsible thing – bag it and bin it.”

Evening News editor Frank O’Donnell added: “Our readers have been telling us in growing numbers just how big a problem dog fouling has become on many of our streets, in parks and on beaches.

“We felt that we couldn’t just stand back and watch without doing something to help.

“We are lucky to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the vast majority of people want to keep it that way. The Dish the Dirt hotline is designed to give that responsible majority the means to fight back, by reporting lazy owners who cannot be bothered to clean up after their pets, and thereby giving the council a much better chance of 
catching them.

“We are delighted to be teaming up with the city council on a campaign which can, with public support, make a real difference to our communities.”

The public are already on the lookout – the city council has received 5761 complaints over the last five years, compared with only 4000 in Glasgow – and the number of calls is on the rise.

It is not only unsightly but can have serious health implications too, especially for children. The dog dirt can infect people with toxocara canis, or dog roundworm, which can cause asthma, extreme stomach pains and, in rare cases, blindness. It is hardly surprising Keep Scotland Beautiful found that 69 per cent of Scots felt dog fouling offended them more than any other form of litter.

The charity’s chief executive, Derek Robertson, said: “The dog fouling problem is one which significantly affects quality of life, as the thoughtlessness of irresponsible dog owners allows their pets to ruin the magnificent open spaces and streetscapes of our capital city.

“It’s great that the Evening News is on the case and is leading the local campaign to highlight the problem and speak out on behalf of those communities that are blighted.

“It sits well with our national Clean Up Scotland Campaign, which aims to encourage campaigns like this one, and to take action quickly to clean up our country from the litter and mess that too often blights our landscape.”

We know you are sick of the daily sight of dog mess on our streets. So go-ahead, Dish the Dirt, and help keep our city beautiful.


CONSTANT complaints that Edinburgh’s Pilrig Park is often used as a dog toilet were easy to understand when the Evening News visited this week.

We flagged up more than a dozen piles in one small area during a snap visit to the popular park this week.

The problem has become so widespread that locals have rallied to set up a new friends’ group to try to combat the issue.

Mum-of-two Sophie Brown said she and other mums loved taking their children to the park to play.

But after several incidents of youngsters coming home covered in dog muck, they decided enough was enough.

The 34-year-old, of Cambridge Gardens, has recently helped to establish Friends of Pilrig Park in attempt to clean up the park’s image.

A group of conscientious park-lovers now meet regularly to discuss park issues and she says dog mess if often top of the agenda.

Sophie, who wanted to create a safe place for her two-year-old son Zach and other children to play, said the muck often went right up to the children’s play area.

She said: “There was dog mess on the gate into the play area the other day. It’s horrible.

“I’ve heard from mothers, especially of the younger kids that are often playing there, that they will come home with dog mess on them.

“It’s definitely unpleasant but it can be dangerous too. A mother told me the other day that her child wanted to do rolly pollies down the hill but she didn’t feel confident in her doing it in case she got to the bottom and was covered in it.

“The majority of people that use the park with their dogs are very good but it is a problem.”

Sophie, who also has son Fred, seven months, has spoken to councillors and is campaigning to get more bins put in the park.

She said she backed the Dish the Dirt campaign to clean up the city.

“I think it’s a good idea to highlight the issue so everyone can get behind it.”

Dos & don’ts

There are no excuses for not cleaning up after your dog. Here the Dogs Trust offers a simple guide:

• Always carry something to clean up after your dog such as plastic bags or nappy sacks. These are cheaper and just as effective as the more cumbersome poop scoops.

• If you have a garden, train your dog to go to the toilet there before you go for a walk, then clean it up straight away.

• Never let your dog out alone to go to the loo.

• Remember, you don’t need to wait until you find a red dog waste bin, you can dispose of bagged dog mess in any public bin.

• Look out for signs and respect the city council rules on dog- free areas such as children’s play areas and sports pitches.

• Do not leave used bags hanging from branches or at the side of the path. Take them with you and dispose of them at your nearest bin.

• Bag it and bin it wherever your dog fouls, whether it’s on a path or in a gutter. Rain water will not wash it away and is a lazy excuse.

• Get your dog wormed regularly. Visit your veterinary surgery for advice on the products suitable for your pet and how often you will need them.

• Always wash your hands after a walk or petting your dog and before eating. While toxocara infections are very rare and are more likely to affect children, adults can become ill too.