The children of Porthleven School write an open letter about clearing up dog poo

There is a small working group made up from representatives from the town council and the community who are looking at how to tackle the issue of people not picking up their dog’s poo. It is totally unacceptable our play areas and pavements are blighted by dog poo; caused by owners failing to pick it up.

The working group has asked the children of Porthleven School to help in this campaign. The children of the school, supported by the teaching staff, have written an open letter that explains how they see this issue.

The letter is as follows:

“Dear Porthleven,

The children of Porthleven School are writing this open letter as we would like to ask people in the village to make sure they clean up after their dogs. It is something that the children think is a growing problem, where they have noticed it all around our village. During the last week the School Council, which is run by pupils, have been holding meetings with the children in each class, along with the teachers, to talk about the issue about the dog mess in Porthleven. When we talked to the children here are some of their comments,

“There is lots of poo around the park, especially around the goal and it has stopped my mum letting me play there.”

“My mummy found 20 large pieces of dog poo in one field and was really cross. She picked up every single piece of poop.”

“I am really scared for my dog because the rain makes it go in the stream and all the germs might make her very ill when she drinks from it.”

“The posters don’t work. I watched somebody scoop up the mess and put the bag in a hedge.”

“There are not enough bins and they are never cleaned.”

“There are more flies with the mess and they go all over you.”

“My dog was really poorly from eating it and got a parasite in its tummy.”

“I went for a walk and there was poo on the beach, in the lane and by the swings – it was everywhere!”

This is just a few of the comments we have collected.

The pupils are really concerned that if they get it on their shoes, they could spread into school on the floor where they might sit.

We have been investigating and know that dog poo has 23 million bacteria on just one gram. This makes it stink and is unpleasant, but most importantly, it can make us really poorly. It also has toxins in that could make us blind. It is bad for our environment and gets into the water and se

We want to change this by making people more aware of the issues. If there are more bins, people might use them? Why do people just leave it on the floor? We have seen signs saying about fines for people who don’t clear up the mess but are they enforced?

Thank you for the time in reading our concerns and we really would like you to address this problem as soon as possible.

Yours Sincerely

Porthleven School Council”

This letter say’s it all really. Well done to all the children who gave their views. Thanks should also go to the staff at the school who are supporting the children to get this message across.

Please pick up your dog’s poo. And when you do pick it up, do not just leave the bag, or throw it somewhere, dispose of it correctly. It is not only the red dog bins that can take dog poo, all bins in Porthleven can be used to deposit dog poo.

POOP – Poo out of Porthleven

I totally fail to understand why dog owners do not pick up the poo of their dog. It is disgusting, and lately in Porthleven, it seems many people have decided to be irresponsible and leave the dog poo where their dog has deposited. I often hear the cry – ‘it is not my dog’ however, the amount of faeces left on the pavement and in the open spaces is more than the work of one or two dogs. Or dare I say it 10 dogs with bad diets.

Another ‘defence’ I hear is there are not enough bins. Well, I will counter that on two counts. The first, is there are over 25 bins (mapped 31 but just need to confirm) in Porthleven. These are not just dog bins, but other waste bins which dog mess can be deposited into. Put simply, dog mess doesn’t just have to go into dog bins.

The second part is even if you cannot find a bin at your exact position you dog deposits, you can either A) carry it until you find a bin; or B) shock-horror, take it home with you and place it in your own dustbin. It is not rocket science.

Residents have had enough too, and very recently have taken to Facebook to vent their anger at the irresponsible – yet unnamed – owners. So much so, a new Facebook group has started called POOP – ‘Poo out of Porthleven.’

I very much welcome this, as the residents of Porthleven need to help if we want to eradicate the blight of dog mess on our streets and open spaces.

Nine dog wardens are employed by Cornwall Council, so the chances of a dog warden being in the right place when someone fails to pick up is slim. However, if a resident witnesses someone failing to pick up after their dog, and they are willing to report this, then Cornwall Council will issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) to the offender. Though the witness might have sign a statement for use in court if the offender does not pay the FPN.

In the meantime, I have been speaking to various officers at Cornwall Council on what support they can give the local community to tackle this issue. I am pleased to say the Council is very willing to help the community. This can be means of posters to be displayed around the town and in areas where it is like walking through a poo minefield. Training can also be delivered to residents on how to fill in the reporting card.

Cornwall Council runs courses to train people up to issue fixed penalty notices but it is best for them to be employees of Porthleven Town Council. The rules allow citizens, but this is fraught with difficultes.

Once everything is in place, targeted patrols of particular areas will be undertaken. These trained people could team up with Cornwall Council’s enforcement staff so they can put into action what they have learned and hopefully catch a few people.

It is all well and good moaning about it, but people need to stand up, and report those who they see not picking up after their dog. Without this citizen help, we are never going to solve this issue. However, from the response I have seen on Facebook, I believe there is a willing group of people who want to solve this issue. The danger is, you put up a few posters, it all stops for a while, then it returns. This has to be a long term plan.

The Town Council will be discussing the matter at its next meeting on Thursday 13th March at 7pm. The public are very welcome to attend.

Dog Sh** and FPNs

I still fail to understand why so many dog owners find it impossible to pick up their dogs mess. Things have slightly improved in Porthleven, but it is still a problem. Porthleven is not alone, as this problem plagues Cornwall, too. I know dog owners have contacted me to complain about the issue, but I still do not think the amount of dog-waste not being picked up is the work of one or two dogs.

Cornwall Council’s Environmental Enforcement Team has had some success in catching people who think it is ok not to pick up after their dog leaves a deposit. Though I have to say, the number of people caught at given a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) is rather small.

For the following years here are the number of FPN issued, and fines collected:

  • 2009/2010: 55 FPN issued – 50 fines collected totalling £2,500
  • 2010/2011: 94 FPN issued – 86 fines collected totalling £4,330
  • 1/4/20011 – 31/3/2012: 24 FPN issued – no data on fines collected, or the amount as yet available
  • 1/4/2012 – 25/11/2-12: 29 FPN issued – no data on fines collected, or the amount as yet available

So, in a three-year period, 202 FPN have been issued for people not picking up their dogs mess. However, the problem is you have to catch people to be able to issue a FPN. The public could help with this; as if they witness someone not picking up after their dog, they could act as a witness for the local authority (contact me if you want more details on how this works).

Cornwall Council will also be (re)launching a campaign in the next few weeks to ask for help from its citizen in trying to address the problem of dog owners who do fail to clean up after their dogs. It may help address this unsightly and dangerous problem.

The full report is HERE