Back in March, Harrogate Borough Council joined forces with Keep Britain Tidy to take part in a national ‘We’re watching you’ campaign which set its sights on dog owners who act irresponsibly when they think they aren’t being watched.
The campaign has been so successful in the Harrogate district that it has resulted in reducing offending by up to 91%.
Keep Britain Tidy’s research suggests that dog fouling tends to occur at night and during the months with shorter days, when some dog owners feel that they can’t be seen under the cover of darkness.
The council’s Dog Warden Service and the Safer Harrogate District Community Safety Group identified three key problem areas for the campaign: Hell Wath playing fields in Ripon; Castle Gardens and Bebra Gardens in Knaresborough; and the Harrogate to Ripley cycle path at Bilton.
At each location officers held ‘bag and flag’ events to clearly show the extent of the problem; in total over 800 piles of dog mess were picked up and bagged.
Following the events, glow-in–the dark signs were put up to dissuade dog owners from leaving their dog’s mess behind. The council’s Dog Control Officers then monitored the areas for the next three weeks to see if there was any change in dog walkers’ behaviour.
And even they have been amazed at the results. An audit of the amount of dog fouling carried out immediately after the ‘We’re watching you’ campaign and another one a few weeks later recorded the following reductions:
- instances down by 89 per cent at Knaresborough’s Castle and Bebra Gardens
- a reduction of 90 per cent at Hell Wath playing fields in Ripon and
- along the Harrogate to Ripley cycle path at Bilton instances of dog fouling fell by 91 per cent
The campaign has had such an impact that the council is now rolling out the ‘watching you’ signs to other known dog fouling hot spot areas across the district and the Dog Warden Service are encouraging local groups to run their own campaigns.
Councillor Mike Chambers, Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Safer Communities said, “People see dog fouling as by far the most unacceptable, dirtiest, and potentially dangerous form of litter.
“Whilst the vast majority of dog owners are responsible people who pick up after their dogs and dispose of the waste correctly, there are a minority of irresponsible owners who fail to act appropriately.
“The glow-in-the-dark signs really seem to have made dog owners think about their actions and undoubtedly helped reduce instances of fouling.
“We also worked with local communities to ensure that as many dog owners as possible were aware of the campaign as well as highlighting the issue, and I would like to thank the public for their support.
“We are delighted that the campaign had such a significant impact on helping us combat this problem and hopefully the rollout across the district will have the same impressive results.”
Any local group wishing to run a similar campaign in their area can contact the DogWarden Service who can provide advice as well as bags and flags, posters, leaflets and stickers free of charge. Telephone 01423 500600, email [email protected] or visit www.harrogate.gov.uk and search for ‘dog fouling bag and flag’.