Blaise Tapp: Tackling dog fouling should be a priority

Speak to any aspiring journalist - and I have met and interviewed hundreds over the past 20 years - and they will reveal a very clear set of ambitions.

Sunday, 25th March 2018, 4:44 pm
Updated Sunday, 25th March 2018, 4:50 pm

Most will tell their would-be employer how passionate they are about news and why they will make a difference to their communities, should they be given the job.

Some talk about wanting to uncover corruption and right injustices and how, if given the opportunity, they will shine a light into the darker corners of society.

A few will display enough self belief to proclaim how they see themselves working for a national title within the next five years where they hope to cover national institutions such as Westminster or the Premier League.

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What nobody ever says in interview is that they want to spend the rest of their days in a newsroom covering the most pressing local issues such as irresponsible dog owners who don’t clean up after their pets.

It never happens because dog poo stories are regarded as the Exeter City of current affairs - unfashionable and of no real interest to anyone other than the people they directly affect. But this is an issue that is not talked about quite often enough for my liking and it certainly isn’t taken anywhere near as seriously as it should be.

Those who complain too loudly about having to dodge disgusting brown parcels on our pavements are regarded in some quarters as busybodies who don’t have anything more important to worry about.

But dog dirt on our streets is a scourge which has wider ramifications than just being being a menace to local residents, not to mention being absolutely disgusting.

If you ask me, the sort of idiots who blithely let their hounds do their business before walking away without so much as a rustle of a small plastic bag are the sort of people I would cross the road to avoid.

Yet there is no typical offender - these morons come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life, yet they largely get away with it.

Each year just several thousand dog owners receive fixed penalty notices of anywhere between £50 and £80 and while most cough up, there are some who refuse and are taken to court, where their names are then put into the public domain.

Not normally a betting man I would wager my week’s sausage roll allowance that those dog owners who end up being named and shamed in newspapers such as this one don’t ever do it again, which is why I believe identities of all offenders should be made public.

That way I am pretty sure we would see a lot less poo on our pavements but it is unlikely to ever happen, especially now as our data protection laws are set to be tightened further in the coming weeks.

If we cannot publicly shame these people then local authorities need to do more to catch them.

So often you hear about communities taking the initiative such as putting up homemade warning posters or the residents in Cambridgeshire who have set up an online map showing where poo has been discovered, but it isn’t down to them.

Rather than targeting motorists and people who put cardboard in their general rubbish bins, councils should make this more of a priority.

Yes, there are more serious issues in the world but this is something we should be easily able to stamp out.