KILKENNY Local Authorities have stepped up efforts in the ongoing battle to keep the county’s streets clean, with a new campaign to get dog owners cleaning up after their pets.
The ‘Love your Dog, Love Kilkenny’ campaign was launched last month on the back of increasing public concern over the quantity of dog faeces left in public areas by dogs with careless owners.
The Litter Pollution Acts 1997-2003 require dog owners to clean up after their pets in public places, under penalty of an on-the-spot fine, which if not paid can lead to prosecution and a larger fine. However, some Kilkenny citizens are complaining that many dog owners are simply ignoring the laws, and the problem is getting worse.
Authorities are now concerned that the prevalence of dog faeces on city streets is negatively affecting the tourist experience of Kilkenny, and could damage the county’s reputation for tidiness if the issue is not addressed. Last month, Mayor David Fitzgerald and Councillor Betty Manning took to the streets to hand out free Pooper Scoopers to passing dog walkers in order to raise awareness of the campaign.
The mayor, who is a member of Keep Kilkenny Beautiful, said that the new campaign was the first step in tackling the issue. Chairman of KKB Sean Leahy said that the launch was timely.
“The problem has been around for years, but it has got worse,” says Sean Leahy of Keep Kilkenny Beautiful.
“If you are visiting Kilkenny, and your first experience is stepping into a pile of dog dirt, what does that say to you? It’s something that needs to be tackled now.”
Mr Leahy is hopeful that dog owners will heed the campaign, but says that those who choose not to must be held accountable by Gardai.
“I am hoping that people will listen and take it on board, but if they do not, they should have to pay the penalty,” he said.
“I had a dog myself for 18 years, and I know it can be unpleasant to have to do - but you have a responsibilty to other people and for your area.”
As well as being unsightly, dog faeces can cause serious illness in humans, particularly in young children. Infection from the Toxocara worm can last up to two years, causing damage to the liver, lungs, and eyes - even leading to blindness.
Free pooper scoopers are available from local libraries, County and City Hall. Pet shops also sell a wide variety of them.
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