New enforcement powers for dog control - which could see irresponsible owners fined up to £1,000 - are set to be introduced.
The new powers are part of Durham County Council’s new Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which will mean that, from June 1, County Durham dog owners will be subject to a number of fineable offences.
These include allowing a dog to stray; failing to put a dog on a lead when asked by an authorised officer and allowing dogs into fenced off designated play areas.
The existing offence for allowing a dog to foul without picking it up will continue under the PSPO.
From August to December 2016, Durham County Council sought public views on the proposal to implement the PSPO, and found that 80% of respondents to the consultation agreed with the proposal.
The consultation also found that the majority of those who took part supported the PSPO in the hope that it will encourage responsible dog ownership; reduce the number of strays; create safe and welcoming fixed play space areas; and tackle dog fouling incidents.
During 2015 and 2016, Durham County Council received 1,778 calls about stray dogs and collected 1,173 stray dogs.
By making it an offence to allow a dog to stray, it is hoped the number of stray dogs will decrease, which is a key concern that residents have raised with the council.
Trained council staff and Durham Constabulary officers will be able to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for £100 (discounted to £60 if paid within 10 working days) for breach of the Public Space Protection Order.
Failure to pay the FPN will lead to prosecution, with a maximum fine of £1,000.
The order will not apply to anyone who is registered as blind, is disabled or who uses a trained assistance dog.
Coun Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, said: “We are very pleased with the positive response and welcoming comments by members of the public who agreed, by majority, to implement a Public Space Protection Order for dog control in County Durham.
“These new powers will enable us to take action against irresponsible dog owners and those who affect the public’s health and wellbeing through their actions.
“The new order will also complement our ongoing education and engagement programmes, which encourage dog owners to do the right thing and act in the best interests of others to protect the towns and villages where we live, work or visit.”
For more information visit www.durham.gov.uk/dogcontrol or www.durham.gov.uk/consultation