Dog littering is a county-wide problem which needs to be addressed both by making bins available and through education and enforcement, according to councillors who discussed the problem this week.
The issue of dog fouling was raised on Tuesday by Cllr Ruth Illingworth at the monthly meeting of Mullingar Town Council.
Her request that Westmeath County Council employ more dog and litter wardens to help deal with dog mess was shot down as she was told “there is no possibility of recruitment of additional staff” at present.
However, the council confirmed that a sub-committee has been established to consider how the issue will be tackled.
Director of services David Hogan said the committee would be looking at best practice around the country.
“The problem of dog litter needs to be addressed by way of enforcement, greater public awareness and by responsible dog owners, who can be fined under the Litter Acts & Control of Dogs Act if they do not clean up after their dogs,” he said.
Cllr Illingworth said the problem of dog littering has been getting steadily worse.
“It is a problem that has been raised at area meetings, and it is getting worse. Possibly a lot more people own dogs, and not all are responsible. One way forward would be through schools, so that children are aware of issues such as the health dangers. We need to ensure dogs are looked after and cleaned up after. It is more a question for members of the public and dog owners to act in a more responsible way as it is a source of distress and annoyance to residents,” she said.
Cllr Ken Glynn welcomed the establishment of the sub-committee. “It is an absolutely huge issue. Westmeath County Council need to provide a service in the form of bins and signage in residential areas. It is the responsibility of owners, but as a local authority we also need to play a part,” he added,
Cllrs Pat Collins, Bill Collentine, and Peter Burke also spoke out in favour of action on dog littering.