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Guide to dog fouling and UK law

Guide to dog fouling and UK law

Dog mess on the pavements isn’t just unpleasant, it’s a serious health risk – especially to children. In the UK, dog owners are legally required to clean up after their pet when they’re out and about in public places. Not doing so could result in a hefty penalty, so here’s our guide to dog fouling and UK law.

Tom Harrison
Content writer
minute read
posted 7 OCTOBER 2019

Dog fouling penalties and fines

The Keep Britain Tidy campaign estimates there are more than eight million dogs producing more than 1,000 tonnes of ‘mess’ in the UK every day.

And now, dog fouling in public places is included in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, introduced in 2014.

Public places covered by the law include:

  • roads, pavements and public footpaths
  • parks and green spaces
  • town centres and shopping precincts
  • car parks
  • playing fields, playgrounds and school grounds

Under a public spaces protection order, local authorities can issue a fixed penalty fine of up to £100 to those who fail to clean up after their dog in public. If a person refuses to pay, the case could be taken to the local magistrates’ court, where the offender faces a fine of up to £1,000.

What’s more, pleading ignorance and saying you were unaware your dog had fouled isn’t a valid excuse, according to the law.

In Wales, local authorities have issued 90,500 fixed penalty notices – resulting in more than £4.5 million paid out in litter and dog mess fines, since 2015.

Health risks of dog excrement

Dog mess can contain the eggs of a type of roundworm known as the Toxocara worm.  

Contact with contaminated soil or excrement can cause toxocariasis – an infection that can lead to asthma, seizures and even blindness. Children are most at risk, as they’re more likely to come into contact with soil, sand or grassy areas.  

Responsible dog owners can help reduce the risk of toxocariasis by cleaning up their dog’s mess immediately, and ensuring their dog is regularly wormed.

Bag it and bin it

If you walk your dog in a public place, make sure you take disposable bags with you. Most councils provide dedicated dog bins so you can easily dispose of the bag. If there isn’t a dog bin around, double bag it and put it in a normal litter bin.

How to report a dog fouling problem

If you have information about someone who refuses to clean up after their dog, you can report it to your local council. The Gov UK local services website has more information on reporting dog fouling.

Also, if you know of a public place littered with dog mess, you can ask your local council to clean it.  

Cleaning up after your dog, regular worming treatments and keeping up to date with their booster vaccinations will ensure your pet, you and others are protected against harmful and infectious diseases.

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