South Tyneside Council is introducing major changes to the way it enforces the law to control dogs and promote responsible dog ownership.
As from 19th July the fixed penalty fine for not picking up dog faeces was raised by the Government from £25 to £50.
In addition to the Council's Dog Wardens the number of Council officers authorised to serve these notices is to be substantially increased.
A number of beach staff have already been authorised and it is planned that additional officers working in parks and street cleansing will be able to serve the £50 fixed penalty notices.
As part of its change of approach the Dog Wardens will also be on duty at weekends during the holiday period to seize any stray dogs and also serve fixed penalty notices. They will target the seafront area and adjacent parks in particular.
As part of their duties the Dog Wardens will be approaching dog owners to ensure they carry bags in order to pick up their dog faeces. They will also give advice and guidance on responsible dog control issues and also give out a number of "poop scoop" bags to owners who do not carry them.
Dog owners will also be advised of the need to keep dogs on a leash on parts of the beach, in parks and in cemeteries.
To help control lost and stray dogs the Council is to introduce a micro chipping service for owners who wish their dogs to be electronically tagged to reduce the likelihood of their pets being lost.
For £15 or £10 if in receipt of a recognised benefit, owners can ensure that if their pet is lost and picked up by the Dog Warden then it will be returned to them without incurring penalty. This will apply for the first time the dog is retrieved only. Thereafter the dogs will be taken to West Hall Boarding Kennels and their owners informed of their whereabouts.
The Council in partnership with the National Canine Defence League is also operating a scheme whereby people in receipt of a recognised benefit may have their dogs neutered free of charge. Owners need only to fill in an application form and show proof of a recognised benefit in order to have their dogs neutered. The scheme is operated on a first come first served basis and interested owners should telephone 424 7907 for further advice.
Councillor Peter Boyack, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services, says: "The Council take the issue of the nuisance caused by dogs very seriously. While we recognise that dogs provide health benefits and the majority of dog owners are responsible we aim to clamp down on those who allow their dogs to foul indiscriminately. I would encourage people to take advantage of the Council's new initiatives to help dog owners to have their pets chipped and neutered."