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Letters / Dog mess apology

I very recently had a letter printed in Shetland News letters (Please clean up after your dog; SN, 11/06/18) with regard to the increasing amount of dog mess around the Nesting area. Being a regular dog walker I do know of some people who don’t pick up after their dog(s).

I was approached by someone who felt they had, and I quote, “borne the brunt” of my letter of concern. Can I just say here, it was not my intention to upset anyone. It was purely a matter of complete frustration on my part that someone, who I believed to be in a position of authority, did not appear to be setting an example.

Let me say very clearly here: to that person and their family I give you an unreserved apology and hope that, in the community we share, we can, as residents, find a way to combat this problem.

The Law

The Dog Fouling Act of 2016 places responsibility on “the person in charge of the dog” at the time of the misdemeanour. This means that if you are walking a dog for someone else you cannot use the excuse, “Oh well, it wasn’t my dog”.

Both the police and authorised local council staff can issue a fixed penalty notice to those they suspect of committing an offence under the act.

Health Risks

Approximately 1,000 tonnes of dog faeces is produced every day in the UK.

Dog fouling can lead to an increased risk in disease if dogs are not regularly wormed. Toxocara canis can pass from dog poo to humans as toxocariasis through contaminated sand or soil, or by playing with dogs which have licked eggs from their bodies or faeces. Toxocariasis is an illness of humans caused by larvae (immature worms) of either the dog roundworm (toxocara canis), the cat roundworm (toxocara cati) or the fox roundworm (toxocara canis). (Thankfully one less animal to spread disease up here).

In rare cases, the roundworm larvae infect organs such as the liver, lungs, eyes or brain and cause severe symptoms, such as:

• fatigue
• loss of appetite or weight loss
• skin rashes
• wheezing or breathing difficulties
• seizures (fits)
• blurred or cloudy vision, usually only affecting one eye
• a very red and painful eye

I am not afraid to say that if I see anyone in my community, or anywhere else for that matter, not picking up after their dog it will be reported.

Kate Aligaard

Note: Shetland Islands Council has a ‘dog fouling’ page on its website. The council’s environmental health department can be contacted on 01595 745250.