A boy is leading a battle against dog owners who leave behind their pet’s mess - by urging them to be nice.
Six-year-old Alex Forsyth took up the challenge set down by Durham County Council’s #FollowOurLead campaign, which calls on owners to do their bit to clear up and protect the environment when they exercise their dogs.
After becoming the proud owner of a Labrador puppy called Lily, Alex and his mum, Victoria, began walking Lily regularly near to their Chester-le-Street home.
They soon noticed the irresponsible actions of a minority of dog walkers who had failed to pick up their dog’s waste.
Taking matters into his own hands, Alex designed an anti-dog fouling poster to persuade other dog owners to follow his lead and make sure dog foul is collected and put into a bin.
The Newker Primary School pupil said: “Please pick up your dog poo!
We are thrilled with Alex’s initiative and passion to deter other dog owners from acting irresponsibly.Oliver Sherratt
“And if you don’t...the council doesn’t think you’re a nice person, and they’ll think you’re someone who doesn’t pick up their dog poo.
“People don’t like dog poo.
“Once, I stood in a dog poo and it was horrible.”
He added: “All you have to do is bring your dog poo bag!”
The poster was sent to Alex’s local MP, Kevan Jones, and then passed on to the council.
Presenting Alex with a framed print of his poster, Oliver Sherratt, head of direct services at Durham County Council said: “We are thrilled with Alex’s initiative and passion to deter other dog owners from acting irresponsibly.
“His eye-catching design is an effective message to tell people to pick up their dog’s waste and it will be displayed as posters and on dog waste bins in the local area, including nearby Moorfoot Avenue play area.
“The artwork also complements our existing Public Space Protection Order and #FollowOurLead campaign signs displayed across the county.”
Councillor Brian Stephens, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships added: “Alex has done a fantastic job designing a poster for his local community and we hope others will follow Alex’s lead and pick up their dog’s foul.”
In addition to the posters and dog waste bin stickers, the council’s civic pride team and anti-dog fouling mascot, Scoop the dog, visited Alex’s school and delivered a responsible dog ownership session to educate all youngsters on the importance of looking after pets correctly.
Neighbourhood wardens regularly patrol areas identified as dog walking hotspots to ensure dog owners pick up after their pet.
Under the new Public Space Protection Order, anyone caught not picking up after their dog can be issued with a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice and subsequently prosecuted for non-payment.
Implemented on June 1, the new order introduced additional enforcement powers to encourage responsible dog ownership.
In County Durham it is now an offence to allow a dog to foul without picking it up, let dog stray, allow a dog to enter fenced off play areas included in the order and fail to put a dog on a lead when asked by an authorised officer.
For more information about the Public Space Protection Order for dog control visit www.durham.gov.uk/dogcontrol.
All incidents can also be reported by telephone – call 03000 261 000.