Councillors back calls for clamp-down on dog fouling on Borders sports pitches and play areas

Councillor Tom Weatherston at Croft Park in Kelso.
Councillor Tom Weatherston at Croft Park in Kelso.
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Borderers being free to let their dogs foul on the region’s play areas and sports pitches could become a thing of the past if Scottish Borders Council gets its way.

The local authority has backed a motion calling on the Scottish Government to extend the 2003 Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act, which could make it an offence to allow dogs to defecate on sports pitches or play areas.

Currently the law requires dog owners to pick up their pet’s poo, but there is no law in place to stop them creating that mess on a public sports pitch or play area in the first instance.

However Kelso councillor Tom Weatherston yesterday gained unanimous backing from his fellow councillors and his motion to approach the government about extending the law was passed.

He said: “Just to make it clear, I am not saying that I want to see dogs banned form the whole park, just that owners shouldn’t take them and let them foul on sports pitches or play areas.”

That was a motion seconded by Galashiels councillor Andy Anderson, who added: “This is a widespread issue.

“All coaches and volunteers who pick up dog mess before any training session or game, tell me this is still happening.

“This is not something that these people who make children’s’ sports possible should have to be doing.

“Not only is it unpleasant, it is a risk to health. A single gram of dog poo contains 23million faecal bacteria.

“Unfortunately even the most responsible dog owners cannot remove all traces when clearing up after their dogs.

“Dog dirt is an issue which has been brought up time and time again at community councils.”

He added that the dog fouling act is a members bill supported by the Scottish Executive, and while it makes it an offence for those responsible for dogs not to clear up after them in public areas, specific areas such as agricultural land, play areas and sports pitches are not covered specifically.

Mr Anderson added: “Although we can put signs up banning dogs they are not enforceable, so how can we reinforce this to the Borders’ antisocial dog owners who are allowing this problem to continue?”

Mr Weatherston added: “The Dog Fouling Act 2003 makes it clear a dog can foul on any open space provided the owner picks it up.

“I just can’t accept in the 21st century that is right because, like anyone, a dog can have diarrhoea, and even for the most responsible dog owner it’s just not possible to pick it up when that happens.

“I believe it’s much safer for people playing sport and children playing to be able to participate in what they are doing without the risk of dog muck on these areas.

“I am looking for the government to consider making these two site-specific areas dog fouling-free and for it to be illegal for anyone to allow their dogs to foul in these two areas.”