Clean up after your dog - plea from Sidmouth scouts and footballers

Dog fouling

Dog fouling - Credit: Archant

Scouts and footballers plagued by dog mess in a shared space are urging pet owners to think of public health and make use of a bin.

While Salcombe Recreational Field is utilised most days by youngsters for a range of activities, the secluded spot has long been used by the wider community, writes Stephen Sumner.

After a mum reported her son repeatedly coming home with dog mess on his shoes, group scout leader Nancy Craven has issued an appeal for owners to clean up after their pets.

“People do exercise their dogs there – it’s a great facility and a beautiful spot,” she said. “My concern is dog mess is horrible to get on your clothes and we’re camping in the field, so children are coming into contact with it. Dog mess can carry Toxocara canis, which can cause eye problems, so it’s a quite serious problem.”

Nancy said it was not feasible for the scout leaders to scour the field every time they use it, so is appealing to dog owners to take responsibility. “It’s just part of everybody being neighbourly,” she said. “We have no problem with people walking their dogs, but just ask they keep an eye on them and act responsibly.”

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Nancy successfully got Sidmouth Town Council to install and regularly empty a dog bin and for posters to be put up asking people to use it. However, after several years, the messages have withered.

The field accommodates the scouts’ new HQ and is used on alternate weekends by the two under-12s football teams – the Raiders and the Warriors.

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Nancy said another theory proposed recently is that ‘badgers are using it as a toilet’ – but people obviously cannot ask badgers to clean up after themselves.

Sidmouth Town Council is the trustee of the site and a spokesman warned it will start to ‘name and shame’ those who do not pick up after their pets, adding: “It’s particularly irresponsible and, to be honest, selfish. If they are taking the time to walk their dog that far out of town, they can take a plastic bag with them to put in the bin. We have provided a bin. It’s very upsetting when we get a call from youngsters that are using that field to say they are having to be careful. It’s a recreational field - it’s held in trust for the public to use.

“We have nothing against dogs or dog owners and the vast majority of owners are completely responsible. It’s a small minority that are spoiling it for the rest of us.”

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