An initiative to promote responsible dog ownership has led to a drop in fouling complaints, officials have revealed.
Since the Green Dog Walkers scheme started last summer there has been a 26 per cent reduction in the number of complaints about dog fouling received by Northumberland County Council.
As a result, the authority has introduced more proactive dog fouling enforcement patrolling to be carried out in 2018.
The Green Dog Walkers scheme is a community-led programme to reduce dog fouling and promote responsible dog ownership, with more than 1,300 people signed up.
Dog owners are encouraged to join by signing the Green Dog Walkers pledge to always clean up after their dog and put the bag in a bin, and to use a friendly approach to encourage other dog walkers to do the same.
Those who sign up are sent a green dog walkers’ armband to wear to help draw attention to the scheme, as well as green doggy bags and pledge leaflets.
Coun Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for the environment and local services at Northumberland County Council said: “Since this scheme was introduced we’ve seen the first significant drop in dog fouling complaints in the last five years.”
He added: “Dog fouling is one of our top environmental priorities and one of the issues most commonly raised with us by residents. This friendly and non-confrontational approach really seems to be changing attitudes to the problem of dog fouling and I’d like to thank everyone who has signed up.
“The scheme complements other council approaches across the county, including issuing fines when irresponsible dog owners are caught allowing their dogs to foul without picking up after them and educational initiatives promoting responsible dog ownership.
“In the last financial year 85 fixed penalty fines were issued in Northumberland for dog fouling – the highest number issued by any of the seven north east councils last year.
“This approach of education, engagement and enforcement is really paying dividends.”
Anyone interested in becoming a Green Dog Walker can email email@example.com, or visit www.northumberland.gov.uk/greendogwalkers