Eoghan Dalton Reports
Just two fines were issued for dog fouling in Waterford City in 2018. The key reason given by the local authority for the low figure was that owners and their pet need to be ‘caught in the act’ to have a hope of any prosecution taking place.
The two fines contrast highly with the 205 fines issued last year for littering in the city centre and suburbs by the Council’s environment enforcement officers.
This statistic was included in the Waterford City Centre Management Group’s recent Health Check Report.
It was greeted with bafflement at last week’s Metropolitan District meeting, with Councillor Eddie Mulligan (FF) commenting that he “can certainly nearly come across two dogs fouling every day”.
City & County Council Director of Environment Services Fergus Galvin quipped that the two fines were “probably two more” than the previous year’s number. “The big difficulty is you literally have to catch dog and owner in the act and we have to be able to identify the owner,” added Mr Galvin. “I won’t say it’s next to impossible. You get the odd one or two here and there and that’s about the size of it.”
A Council inspector has to be present when the dog fouling is taking place if there’s to be any hope at proceeding with a case.
The inspector must witness the act, clarify who the canine belongs to and then identify the owner, who can be prosecuted under Section 22 of the Litter Pollution Act 1997. Fergus Galvin said the Council currently has two dog wardens for the Metropolitan area and they will be carrying out regular patrols including on beaches and walking trails in the lead up to the summer season.
These wardens will be hoping to educate people on the necessity to clean up after their dogs, said Mr Galvin.