Health Hazards of Dog Fouling

Midlothian Council’s renewed drive against irresponsible dog owners is highlighting the serious health risks which, in extreme cases, can result in blindness, seizures and breathing difficulties as a direct result of coming into contact with dog fouling.

“Laws requiring people to pick up after their dog have been introduced because it is unhygienic and a health hazard’ said Councillor Owen Thompson, cabinet member for environmental health. “Dog fouling is unsightly, unpleasant and can lead to toxocariasis* a disease which causes serious illness and, if left untreated, can result in permanent loss of vision. Toxocariasis could be virtually eradicated if every dog owner regularly treated their dog with a worming preparation and picked up after their dog.

“Dog fouling is an issue that Midlothian Council takes very seriously and tackles continuously. It is an issue where we have made substantial progress with recent patrol statistics showing that around 93% of dog owners do pick up. However, it is the small percentage of irresponsible owners that our new efforts are geared towards reaching in order to change their behaviour.

“Streets and parks in Midlothian have improved but it is the pathways and walkways that are still a problem and people are being put off walking, running, cycling and enjoying these locations.”

The council will shortly sign up to the licensed Green Dog Walkers’ Campaign, path stencils are being introduced, particularly near schools, and work continues to label public bins to make the general public aware that dog waste can go into household and municipal bins as well as in the dedicated dog waste bins located throughout Midlothian.

Councillor Thompson added, “There are new efforts underway to reinforce our abhorrence at dog fouling, but what hasn’t changed is our message which remains very clear and very direct – dog fouling is totally unacceptable. It is illegal to fail to clean up after your dog, it is a health hazard and we will continue to take enforcement action against anyone who disregards the law.”

Midlothian Council’s range of initiatives promoting responsible dog ownership already includes increasing the frequency of out of hours patrols, undertaking more community consultations, providing support and advice on educating dog owners and taking increased enforcement action against offenders. Free dog bags are also provided at council offices, leisure centres and libraries.

Environmental wardens also regularly give talks in schools, educating children, and through them their parents, about looking after dogs, providing information on the risks of fouling and promoting environmental responsibility.

Information and advice on dog fouling is also regularly provided in Midlothian News, on the council website and Facebook page.

Councillor Thompson concluded, “Dog fouling is an issue where we still need the public’s help and we look to them to provide us with information about anyone who is being irresponsible, to allow us to take the necessary action.”

To report an incident, contact the Midlothian Council Call Centre on tel: 0131 561 5284.

*Toxocariasis is caused by parasites, commonly known as Roundworms, living in the digestive system of dogs. Eggs can be released in the faeces of infected animals and contaminated soil. If someone ingests infected material the eggs may hatch into larvae and can lead to toxocariasis. Toxocariasis usually affects children who are between one and four years old, however, cases have been reported in people of all ages. Young children are particularly at risk of getting toxocariasis because they are more likely to put things in their mouths and less likely to wash their hands properly.

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Suse Coon

Suse Coon started life training to be an architect but ended up as a fashion buyer then civil servant. After some time out to bring up her family of three, she returned to what had been a hobby and entered the field of freelance journalism. After becoming regional correspondent, then editor of the orienteering magazine CompassSport, she formed Pages Editorial & Publishing Services. In this guise, West Lothian Life was launched, while Suse maintained a level of freelancing and wrote the award winning children's novel Richard's Castle. In 1999, Suse bought over CompassSport and found her time taken up pretty well exclusively with the two magazines. In 2004, West Lothian Life was expanded to form Lothian Life, however, the workload was too great. In 2006, CompassSport was sold and Suse concentrated on the web version of Lothian Life. Her hobbies include gardening, orienteering, sea kayaking and Tai Chi.

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