IRRESPONSIBLE pet owners are allowing their dogs to roam free in a cemetery and foul next to gravestones.
Upset families have complained people are “persistently” flouting a council ban preventing dogs being taken off their leads in Sunderland cemeteries.
Pictures obtained by the Echo show dogs running free at Bishopwearmouth Cemetery, despite signs warning owners to keep their animals under control.
Leanne Armstrong, 33, of Barnes, regularly walks through the cemetery with dog Barney.
She said: “I always keep him on the lead, but there’s plenty of people who don’t.
“I wouldn’t want him running among the headstones anyway because it’s not very respectful.”
Jennifer Lawson, 62, of Pallion, added: “There’s plenty of dog dirt in this place, so obviously they aren’t picking up after the dogs either. They just don’t seem bothered.”
The city’s cemeteries, including Mere Knolls in Seaburn, are popular walking spots for dog owners, but concerns have been raised about excrement, and dogs disrupting ornaments on graves.
Councillor James Blackburn said: “Dogs should be kept on the leash in Bishopwearmouth Cemetery.
“Where handlers fail in their responsibility to remove their animal’s waste, the city council is prepared to take formal action.
“This includes issuing fixed penalty notices of £50 or considering prosecution in the courts.”