Downham Market man billed for not clearing up dog mess
A Downham man has been billed £330 for failing to clear up after his dog.
Mark Coffill, 66, of Hillcrest, was found guilty of the offence – allowing a dog to foul in a public place and not clearing up after – by magistrates.
A West Norfolk Council community safety and neighbourhood nuisance officer witnessed the incident, in which Coffill had allowed his dog to defecate on a pavement near Landseer Drive. He was then seen to return to his Hillcrest home.
Coffill was invited to attend an interview under caution, but declined.
A council spokeswoman said the senior investigating officer considered issuing a fixed penalty notice, but decided to go straight to court as it was felt it was unlikely that Coffill would accept an admission of guilt or pay the fine.
The spokeswoman said the evidence from the witnessing officer was strong, and although there were mitigating circumstances, the magistrates court ordered a reduced fine of £60, alongside a victim surcharge of £20 and legal costs of £250, making a total of £330.
Ian Devereux, cabinet member for environment, said: "If he had been responsible and cleared up after his dog, Mr Coffill could have totally avoided this £330 bill.
"I hope it serves as a warning to others that we take this matter seriously, and will investigate and take action.
"This of course relies on people reporting issues and being willing to serve as witnesses if we prosecute."
Instances of dog fouling can be reported on the council's online form at west-norfolk.gov.uk/dogfouling – something which Mr Devereux has urged people to do.
"We need to know where the fouling incident has been witnessed and the name and address of the owner if known," he added.
"We log all reports. This helps us find hot spots.
"We can then send in enforcement officers to try to catch people red-handed.
"If you have more evidence and an address of the owner, we can start an investigation with a view to issuing a fixed penalty notice or taking the case forward for prosecution."
Mr Devereux added: "Dog fouling spoils the area for residents and visitors alike, and we all need to do what we can to reduce it – either by being responsible dog owners, or by reporting those who are not."
The council spokeswoman said resources are "limited" for this type of work, so the more information people can provide about where and when incidents happen, and details about the dog's owner, increases the chance of a successful prosecution.
Failure to clean up after a dog not only makes a mess, but it can spread a disease called Toxocara Canis.
In extreme cases, this can cause blindness and provoke rheumatic, neurological and asthmatic symptoms.
Mr Devereux added: "There really is no excuse. Dog owners simply need to take responsibility for their animal and when it fouls – clean up after it – grab it, bag it and then bin it in a nearby dog bin or their own household waste bin."