Call goes out in Borders for irresponsible dog owners to face falling foul of law

Irresponsible dog owners who allow their pets to defecate on sports pitches or children’s play areas could fall foul of the law if a motion to be put to a full meeting of Scottish Borders Council this week is agreed.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 3:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 3:39 pm
Councillor Tom Weatherston in Kelso's Croft Park.

Dog fouling on rugby and football pitches and in play areas has been a long-time bugbear for Kelso councillor Tom Weatherston as he can still remember his disgust at falling on canine excrement while playing rugby as a schoolboy.

This Thursday, January 30, he will be urging fellow council members to support a motion calling on the Scottish Government to extend the 2003 Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act, making it an offence to allow dogs to defecate on sports pitches or play areas.

Mr Weatherston says his suggestion has met with widespread support across the Borders and he’s confident his motion will be passed.

He said: “Since I was elected onto Scottish Borders Council in 2007, I have received a great number of complaints from sports groups and parents about dog mess on sport pitches and children’s play areas.

“The Dog Fouling Act 2003 makes it clear a dog can foul on any open space provided the owner picks it up.

“I just can’t accept in the 21st century that is right because, like anyone, a dog can have diarrhoea, and even for the most responsible dog owner it’s just not possible to pick it up when that happens.

“I believe it’s much safer for people playing sport and children playing to be able to participate in what they are doing without the risk of dog muck on these areas.

“I am looking for the government to consider making these two site-specific areas dog fouling-free and for it to be illegal for anyone to allow their dogs to foul in these two areas.

“I am not looking to make the whole park dog-free, nor am I trying to make things more difficult for dog owners, most of whom are responsible.

“I am confident my motion will receive full cross party council support as I am aware most elected members receive similar concerns to me in relation to this problem from all over the Borders, and many have told me they are happy to support the proposal.”

He added: “This is not anti-dog. It is merely a way of protecting the public, particularly in relation to protecting the health of youngsters.

“There was a case sometime back of a rugby match being cancelled because of the condition of the playing surface as the result of dogs’ poo.”

Mr Weatherston’s motion reads: “Following many complaints over several years from sports groups and parents of children, Scottish Borders Council agrees to write to the Scottish Government requesting an addition to the 2003 Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act to create a new offence.

“It is requested that it be made an offence for a person in charge of a dog to allow it to defecate at any time on a sports pitch or children’s play area.”