Dog walker in a fine mess

A furious dog owner is kicking up a stink after she was slapped with a fine – for picking up the wrong pile of poo.

Pamela Robson was walking her Labrador, Derik, in a field when he paid a visit on the grass.

Conscientious Pamela, who was on the phone at the time, finished her conversation before getting a bag out of her pocket and cleaning up.

But seconds later, two Sunderland City Council environmental enforcement officers approached, hitting the 60-year-old with a 50 on-the-spot fine.

Pamela said: "I couldn't believe it. They said they were fining me for failing to pick up after my dog.

"I said: 'You must have just seen me picking it up', but they said that wasn't my dog's dirt.

"They then took me over to another pile and pointed at it and said: 'That's your dog's mess'.

"I apologised and said I didn't realise and had honestly picked up what I thought was my dog's business."

Gob-smacked, Pamela asked the men if they had a bag so she could pick it up but was told they did not have any on them.

She then used a pair of her pink gloves to pick up the mess and put it in a bin near St Michael's Church in Houghton.

But, despite this, she was told she still had to stump up the cash.

The great grandmother said: "I'm a responsible dog owner and would never dream of not picking up my dog's business, I even pick up after other dogs.

"I felt like my integrity is being questioned and it was like something off Big Brother. Surely these men have better things to do with their time than sit in a car and watch people walking their dogs in a field."

Pamela, of Houghton, has now found herself locked in a battle with the council and is refusing to stump up the cash.

"I'm frightened about being taken to court and ending up with a criminal record but this is bullying and I don't see why they should get away with it," she said.

Norma Johnston, Assistant Head of Environmental Services at Sunderland City Council, said the officers' version of events differs from that given by Pamela.

She said: "The law requires dog owners to clear up immediately after their dog has fouled.

"It is not a defence to say that you 'did not notice or were unaware of the dog foul or were going to clean up later'.

"Fixed Penalty notices are offered as an alternative to prosecution and there is a right to appeal the decision.

"The City Council is committed to improving the quality of life in our neighbourhoods by dealing with all aspects of environmental crime, including dog fouling."

Since April 2009, 100 people have been fined for not clearing up after their dog.