A County Derry dentist who is having to remove dog faeces from outside their practice on a daily basis has said the situation is becoming ‘unbearable’.
Sperrin Smile Dentistry in Dungiven has been plagued by dog fouling outside their premises, with staff and patients constantly having to watch their step going in and out of the practice.
A spokesperson told the County Derry Post that the issue was a ‘constant thing’.
“It’s got a to a stage now where it’s unbearable; it’s every day. On your way to work you’re watching your steps because you don’t know what you’re going to stand in,” they said.
“There is a bin outside our door, but you get out of the car in the morning and you literally have to pick your steps the whole way down.
“Every day I’m out with a bucket of water cleaning around the doorstep of the practice.
“We have an awful lot of older patients come into our place and they’re maybe not looking exactly where they’re going or they can’t see the best.”
As well as being an inconvenience to staff who have to clean up the mess, the dog fouling is also presenting a health hazard.
“They’re standing in it and bringing it in to a healthcare practice. That all has to be cleaned and disinfected if someone comes in with it on their feet,” they said.
“It’s bad enough all the deep cleaning between patients because of Covid, and then you’ve this coming in and it’s a whole palava of everything having to be done again.
“Our windows are frosted so you can’t see out of them, otherwise we could keep a better eye on people going up and down with dogs.”
The news comes in a week when the local council – Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council – presented a document detailing the fines handed out under a now-terminated pilot scheme.
During a year’s contract with WISE (Waste Investigations Support and Enforcement), not a single fine was handed out in Dungiven, with only 1% of all fines issued for dog fouling.
This is right outside our dental practice In #Dungiven and is happening multiple times a day, every day for the past number of weeks and months. How hard is it for dog owners to lift their dog mess? Have contacted dog warden @CoastGlens but is as bad as ever pic.twitter.com/XjeMjYrTu8
— Kegan O’Kane (@KeganKane)
October 11, 2022
The precentage accounts for 110 dog fouling offences throughout the Borough from August 2 2021 to September 23 2022, with offences for cigarette litter making up the bulk of fines (77%).
The scheme was taken on board to supplement the Council’s own litter enforcement, but the spokesperson for Sperrin Smile feels not enough is being done.
“We have contacted the Council umpteen times. We’ve emailed them; I’ve phoned them. You’re fighting a losing battle,” they said.
“We’ve informed them constantly and it’s us that has to clean up the mess. I don’t see them out issuing tickets; nothing is ever said or done about it. It all falls on deaf ears.
“People are doing this in daylight. They don’t feel they’ve anything to hide. They just do it and then walk on and let their dog do whatever.”
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council said they had now taken action in response to the issue.
“Council is aware of an ongoing issue with recurring dog fouling in the New Street/Main Street area of Dungiven,” said a spokesperson.
“In response to this, Council’s Environmental Wardens have increased their patrols in these areas, new bins have been provided in Main Street, ‘No Dog Fouling’ signs have been erected and proactive and reactive clean ups have been carried out by Council’s Operations section.
“Council is also arranging ‘out of hours’ enforcement monitoring. Anyone who is detected failing to remove their dog foul will receive an £80 Fixed Penalty Notice.
“Council would also remind the public that if they witness someone failing to remove their dog foul, they can provide Council with a witness statement and formal action can be taken against the offender.”
The Council also confirmed the arrangement with WISE ended in September 2022.
“WISE were appointed to work in conjunction with the existing Environmental Wardens employed by Council,” they said.
“This partnership saw a combined total of 116 Fixed Penalty Notices served within the Borough for dog fouling offences in the last 12 months.
2This is a significant increase on the number of Fixed Penalty Notices issued in previous years.
“The enforcement of litter and dog fouling offences is now the sole responsibility of Council’s in house Environmental Wardens.”