Is dog fouling still a big problem for the UK?

Posted by Cyril. February 24th 2014.

It is an incident that would disgust anything; walking down a residential or commercial street and having to avoid piles of dog mess. Even worse is when the pile is not detected and it ends up on the bottom of someone’s shoe.

Dog dirt reeks and is difficult to clean off effectively while en route to the shops or work but worse than being embarrassing, it is unhygienic and bad for health.

While fines have been introduced in the UK to encourage pet owners to take responsibility for their animals and clean up any mess, the question remains as to whether dog fouling is still a big problem.

dog fouling sign

The problem

While most dog owners are responsible and will find a way of cleaning up after their dog if it goes to the toilet while they are out on a walk, there are some who apparently don’t care about how anti-social this behaviour is or the unsavoury effect it has on a community.

Cleanliness NGOs conducted research which revealed that 37% of the people they polled said that dog dirt on the street was one of the issues which bothered them the most. Most councils around the UK issue fines against people who don’t make the effort to clean up after their dogs.

Notices for fines stipulating a penalty of up to £1, 000 are visible on public streets but have not been as effective as they could be. This is mainly because proving who is responsible for dog mess is often difficult, despite the fact that 90% of councils have dog wardens. Some councils have even introduced CCTV cameras in a bid to fight illegal dog mess.

How serious is it?

The Dog Trust says that there are approximately 8 million dogs in the UK producing in excess of 1,000 tonnes of dog dirt each and every day. Dog fouling costs councils £22 million annually to clean up.

Whilst it is necessary to be cleaned, this figure could be saved if owners took greater responsibility for their animals. Just as they’d clean up any dog mess in their gardens, pet owners should make sure they have suitable provisions with them to clean up any mess when walking their dogs in private or public areas.


As well as being unsightly, contact with dog faeces can cause an infection which can lead to dizziness, nausea and asthma. In extreme cases, it can cause blindness and seizures. A condition known as ‘ocular larva migrans’ which affects the eyes is caused by contact with dog dirt and each year there is an average of 12 cases reported.

A dog pulls on its lead on a walk


The problem is being tackled however.

‘Keep Britain Tidy’, which has been helping maintain public cleanliness for 60 years, runs scores of campaigns related to litter, fly-tipping and, of course, dog filth. In 2010, a campaign which was undertaken by 94 local authorities with the aim of clamping down on irresponsible dog messing proved effective. Called, ‘There’s No Such Thing as the Dog Poo Fairy’, the campaign led to huge reductions in dog fouling on streets. An average reduction of 43% was recorded across the board while some communities reported a 90% drop.

The body exercises a zero-tolerance approach to dog dirt foulers saying that even when there is no special bin provided, the mess can be thrown in any waste receptacle.

Campaigning like the Dog Poo Fairy and a second named The Big Scoop schemes are ongoing with public support and contribution welcomed.

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