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Why it's important to clean up after your dog

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Not only is dog mess unpleasant, it is human health hazard. The biggest threat to public health is toxocariasis – an infection caused by worms commonly found in dogs intestines. This can cause serious illness, and even blindness.

If you fail to clean up after your dog, you could be issued a fixed penalty notice of £75. The maximum penalty for committing an offence is £1,000 in a magistrate's court.

Dog mess is a public health hazard - Bag it! Bin it!

Dog faeces can contain the eggs of the Toxocara worm (a type of round worm). Humans can become infected by accidentally ingesting worm eggs or by eating food that is contaminated with soil containing the eggs. One of the major forms of toxocariasis (the condition the Toxocara worm can cause) is damage to the eye - reducing vision and in some cases causing blindness.

Children are at higher risk of contracting toxocariasis as they are more likely to come into contact with soil or sand that contains the faeces. Cases of toxocariasis have also been found in sportspeople where dog faeces have been left on recreational play areas and sports pitches.

Toxocara worm eggs need time to develop in areas such as soil for several weeks before they are able to infect humans, which is why it's vital you clean up your dog's mess immediately. If the mess is not picked up, any worm eggs present can develop and infect anyone who comes into contact with them in the future.

Cases of toxocariasis can be reduced if owners are responsible and pick up their dog's mess immediately, and by ensuring their dog is wormed regularly.

It's the law to pick up after your dog

If a dog fouls in a public place, by law the owner or person in charge of the dog at the time must clean up after it and put the mess in a bag tied tightly and place it in a public refuse bin.

It is the responsibility of the dog owner or the person in charge of the dog to clear up any dog mess left by their dog. Being unaware that the dog has fouled, or not having suitable means of removing the mess is not a reasonable excuse for failing to clean up after a dog

A 'public place' is means any area that is open to the air and where the public are entitled or have a right to access it.

Some examples covered by this law include:

  • Highways, including roads, pavements, public footpaths and byways
  • Parks and green spaces
  • Town centres and shopping precincts
  • Car parks
  • Playing fields, including school grounds

What else can I do?

As well as clearing up your dog's mess as a dog owner, you can help reduce any health risk to the public by regularly worming your dog.

If you have information about a dog walker who fails to pick up, report it tod​ay.


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