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New Dog Control Byelaws 21 September 2004

The Department of Local Government and the Environment ("the Environment Department") is proposing to change the law to enable better control and enforcement in relation to problems with dogs and, in particular, dog fouling. The Dogs (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to amend the Dogs Act 1990, has recently been issued to Local Authorities and other interested parties for consultation.

The new proposals will provide Local Authorities with greater powers and incentives to enable them to enforce the law more effectively. Local Authorities will now be able to make their own dog control byelaws and employ "authorised officers" to enforce the law and give offenders the option of paying a fixed penalty of £50.00 rather than go to Court. If the proposed Bill becomes law, Local Authorities will also be able to retain the income from such enforcement action.

The focus of the new law will be to place greater emphasis on the responsibility of dog owners for clearing up after their dogs. By enabling Local Authorities to make more extensive "poop scoop" byelaws which will cover streets, pavements, back lanes, as well as specified open spaces and beaches, enforcement will become more rigorous. Other new powers will allow Local Authorities to ban dogs from popular tourist beaches during the summer months.

Commenting on the new proposals, Environment Minister, Hon. John Rimington, MHK, said:

"Dog fouling is a real nuisance - whether we are walking the street or using a park or beach - and it does have implications for the public health, particularly with regard to young children. A minority of irresponsible dog owners are spoiling open places for everyone else by not clearing up after their dogs and the Department is keen to encourage them to be more responsible.

"These increased powers to control dog fouling will also complement new laws which have been introduced recently to enable Local Authorities to tackle litter. I am confident that many authorities will welcome these new powers and adopt a proactive approach to deal with the issue of dog fouling and litter. But the message to dog owners is: Don't wait until the law makes you clear up. Clean up today!"

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