Thousands of dog owners in Renfrewshire who fail to pick up after their pet have been getting off scot-free, new statistics show.
Since 2013, Renfrewshire Council has recorded 6573 complaints or instances of dog fouling, but just 228 have resulted in someone being handed a fixed penalty notice (FPN).
That means in the past eight years, just 3.5% of recorded incidents have ended up in someone being punished for the offence.
So far this year, just one person has been fined for dog fouling despite more than 300 reports coming in.
Renfrewshire councillors have now called for the local authority to get tougher on offenders and teach children more about responsible dog ownership.
Councillor Jim Sheridan, who represents Linwood, Houston and Crosslee, said an educational programme was needed to get the message across, as well as more wardens to catch people in the act.
The former MP said: “There’s no doubt we need additional resources.
“I do not think I have ever seen a warden out and about and it would be helpful if we could get more of them out.
“I think we also really need some sort of educational programme to teach kids about responsible dog ownership and get the message out there that if you are seen not picking up after your dog by someone, you will be getting fined.
“And we need to make sure people do actually get fined, because dog walkers talk to each other and if one says they know someone who got fined, then that concentrates people’s minds.
“But the bottom line is, dog fouling is disgusting and there is no excuse for it. There are ample dog bins available and people should be encouraged to use them.”
Dog mess can also carry roundworm eggs, which pose a serious health risk, particularly to children.
Ingestion of dog foul can lead them to contract toxocariasis, which has symptoms including inflammation of internal organs and, in some cases, loss of vision.
Dog owners who don’t pick up after their hounds can face a fine of £80.
Council bosses said officers have been highlighting the issue in hotspots using methods such as stencilling on pavements and they insist warden patrols have been increased.
But they have admitted catching people in the act – which is what they need to do to issue a fine – remains complicated.
A council spokesman said: “We’re working hard to change the behaviour of dog owners who fail to pick up after their dog and the Team Up to Clean Up campaign is leading this culture change.
“We have been highlighting the issue in hotspots with additional signage, stencilling on the pavement and increased warden patrols.
“Unfortunately to issue a fine, we need to catch the person in the act which can be difficult, but we will continue to do all we can in terms of enforcement.
“These stats do take into account reports by our own teams when they come across instances of dog fouling and each one is investigated and cleared by our teams.”
By Local Democracy Reporter Stephanie Brawn