Councillor incensed by graveside fouling

Selkirkshire councillor Caroline Penman, who is urging dog walkers to keep their pets on a lead when walking through the town's cemeteries, and to clean up after them.
Selkirkshire councillor Caroline Penman, who is urging dog walkers to keep their pets on a lead when walking through the town's cemeteries, and to clean up after them.

Selkirkshire’s newest councillor, Caroline Penman, is crying foul on irresponsible dog owners after hearing a string of complaints from residents.

One of her constituents had talked of her upset and distress after visiting her daughter’s grave at Selkirk’s Shawfield Cemetery with her grandson, only to find someone had allowed their dog to foul on top of it and left it there.

Mrs Penman said: “I think it’s completely disrespectful. They are letting their dogs off the lead and letting them run around.

“It’s quite upsetting for people who are coming to visit their loved ones’ graves and they are finding faeces there.

“Enough is enough. As residents of Selkirk, we should be saying this has got to stop. We should not have to put up with it any more.

“It’s one of those things that go round and round, it improves for a while, or stops, before starting up again, but enough is enough.

“Dogs should be kept on a lead in the cemetery as a complete mark of respect ... there are other areas to walk your dogs.”

Unfortunately, the problem is not confined to Shawfield. The historic cemetery at the Auld Kirkyard has a path often used by dog walkers running alongside it.

And while some people do seem to be lifting their dog’s mess, they then throw the bags over the fence into the kirkyard.

Mrs Penman told us: “They used to hang them on the trees. Now they are simply flinging them over the fence.

“It is ridiculous ... absolutely horrendous behaviour.”

She says the only way to stop this is to name and shame the perpetrators by reporting them to the council.

“Reporting can be done anonymously, say the owner’s name, what is happening, what kind of dog it is, and what time.

“Unless we start making examples of this kind of behaviour, it’s never going to stop,” said Mrs Penman.

A class of children in Ettrickbridge are making it their mission to stop irresponsible owners after finding several poos in their outdoor learning area.

Mrs Penman said: “The kids were shocked as to how much this was happening in such a small area.

“They had a bit of a campaign and the kids were telling the adults they should be picking up.”

A campaign is now being put together in all schools.

She added: “Schools are a good place to start if we want to instill a bit of pride in our town ... it’s worked in other places such as Newtown, and I think it’s something we should be adopting across the whole of the Borders.”