Irresponsible and selfish pet owners face action in Hartlepool

From left, Summerhill staff members Dave Prescott and Marc Donnelly, and Coun Marjorie James.
From left, Summerhill staff members Dave Prescott and Marc Donnelly, and Coun Marjorie James.

Irresponsible pet owners spoiling others’ enjoyment of a country park in Hartlepool are facing a clampdown, after an increase in complaints about dog fouling.

Special enforcement patrols have been increased in Summerhill, to tackle those who fail to clean up after their canines.

Summerhill is used by thousands of people, especially at this time of the year, and we don’t want their enjoyment of the site to be ruined

Coun Marjorie James

Those seen leaving dog mess behind face an £80 on-the-spot-fine.

Patrols will now also hit the park early in the morning and later in the evenings to catch out offending dog walkers.

The move comes after an increase in the ‘selfish actions’ of individual pet owners, Hartlepool Borough Council has said.

The authority is worried that the problem threatens to ruin people’s enjoyment of the 100-acre site and is also creating a potential health hazard.

Dog mess is known to be dangerous, particularly for children, as it can lead to toxocariasis, which causes serious illness and even blindness.

Dog fouling is also toxic to grass and plants, causing burns and unsightly discolouring.

While pets are welcome at Summerhill Country Park, owners are told to ‘bag it and bin it’.

Coun Marjorie James, chairwoman of Hartlepool Council’s Neighbourhood Services Committee, said: “We want to send out a clear message to irresponsible dog owners that we are not prepared to put up with their selfish actions.

“We want them to be aware that enforcement officers will be visiting the site at various times of the day and they will, without fail, issue £80 fixed penalty notices in all cases where owners are observed failing to clean up after their dogs.

“Summerhill is used by thousands of people, especially at this time of the year, and we don’t want their enjoyment of the site to be ruined.”

The council stresses, however, that it cannot resolve the issue on its own and it is also asking people to report offending dog owners by calling (01429) 523333.

Adam Reah, the council’s outdoor activities co-ordinator, who is based at Summerhill, added: “Whilst we would acknowledge that most people do respect the site, we cannot let a minority of people ruin things for the rest of us.

“It’s a shame that we are being forced to step up enforcement patrols, but we have been left with no alternative and it’s time to say enough is enough.

“It’s simply not acceptable for dog owners to just walk away and leave their dog’s mess for someone else to clean up.”