Irresponsible Dog Owners Risking Public Health

It’s not pleasant to see, to get on your shoe or for your kids to fall in. It can have serious health repercussions and it is illegal to not clean it up. And yet perfectly law abiding citizens think it is acceptable when out walking their dogs to leave their pet’s poo lying on the ground.

poo-binAfter the initial success of the campaign by Papdale Primary School pupils to ‘Bag That Poo- Any Bin Will Do’ it appears some irresponsible dog owners are ignoring that and leaving the excrement where it is deposited.

No matter where you walk in Orkney, on streets, rural pathways or some of our best beauty spots you will find that it has been polluted by the few that think it is ok not to clean up after their dogs.

In 2015/2016 there were 58 complaints made to the council on dog fouling and this fell to 33 in 2016/2017 with the ‘Bag the Poo’ campaign launching in the summer of 2016. Despite the complaints no one in Orkney has, as yet , been fined for failure to clean up after their dog.

There are early indications that complaints are on the rise again – suggesting that some dog owners are still not clearing up after their pet.

The Council’s Environmental Health service continues to receive complaints regarding dog walkers failing to pick up after their dog or dumping their filled green bags outwith available bins – particularly around some of Orkney’s beauty spots like Happy Valley and Hoxa.

Environmental Health Manager in OIC, David Brown  said:

“The initial decrease in complaints would suggest that the campaign had some degree of success – but we’re still continuing to receive complaints particularly about some of our most treasured beauty spots. We’re also aware of ongoing discussion on social media about the dog fouling in Orkney and so we must be mindful that these statistics may represent an under-reporting direct to the Council by the public.

“Dog waste is not only disgusting, smelly and unpleasant to remove from shoes, pram wheels and carpets – it’s also dangerous. Dog poo can carry a disease called toxocariasis that can cause severe problems to human health and is particularly dangerous to young children – as contact with faeces can cause partial loss of sight or even blindness.”

What is Toxocariasis ?

Toxocariasis  is caused by roundworm parasites existing in the dog  faeces and would most commonly be passed onto humans, especially young children, through soil on the hands.

Symptoms would be: cough, high temperature, headaches and stomach pains. For the most severe cases it can infect organs such as the liver, lungs, eyes or brain.

David Brown continued:

“The majority of dog owners are responsible and clean up after their pet – but there’s that small minority that just aren’t getting the message.

“Not cleaning up after your dog is illegal.  It is an offence for any person in charge of a dog not to immediately remove and dispose of its fouling in an appropriate manner – even if they were off the lead at the time. This applies to all public places and communal areas.

“Dog walkers caught out for not cleaning up will be subject to a fixed penalty notice which is currently set at £80.00.”

If you witness an offence, you can report it to Environmental Health at Orkney Islands Council on 873535 or by emailing as soon as possible after the incident with as many details as you can i.e. where, when, description of dog and owner.

poo-binFree dog bags are available from various outlets including OIC Customer Services, Papdale Stores, Orkney Library and Petmania in Kirkwall and from the Warehouse Buildings and the Red Cross Shop in Stromness.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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  1. The other aspect of this, which I find very, very hard to understand , is….when a person picks up the poo, in a plastic bag, carefully ties the top of the bag, then, either leaves it there, on the path, or, even stranger still, hangs it carefully on a fence or a fence post!
    This doesn’t happen so much here on Orkney, as other places, but I have seen it, too often, and I have seen it, here.
    I hated picking up dog poo, nearly as much as I loved my dog – but it’s a responsibility that you take on – you just have to take a deep breathe, try not to think about what you are actually doing, and – bag the poo. Then….take it away with you! Either put it in a bin, or, if there isn’t a bin, take it home and dispose of it.
    It’s in-excusable to just leave it , and, as Fiona points out , contact with dog dirt can lead to blindness – seriously, it can. I knew a child that that happened to, and, worse still, it was because the parent’s didn’t clean up after their own family pet, that the child encountered the poo. Laziness, resulted in a child losing his sight.
    Leaving poo in the plastic bag, means that the dog owner is adding a different kind of pollutant to the area, and, well, how do I best put this? Fresh poo, at least is fresh poo, but poo which has been decomposing in a plastic bag for a while is………indescribably nasty to come into contact with.
    So, yes, please, dog owners, think on, and, don’t just bag it up, also dispose of it properly!!

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