Plans for a non-confrontational and friendly way to tackle the scourge of dog fouling have been revealed by Mid and East Borough Council.
The Green Dog Walkers scheme aims to encourage owners to clean up after their pets.
It was first piloted by Falkirk Council and has proved hugely successful in reducing issues around the problem in other areas.
MEA Mayor, Councillor Paul Reid, said: “The Green Dog Walkers Initiative is all about changing attitudes.
“Volunteers are encouraged to take a pledge to always clean up after their pets, carry extra dog waste bags, be happy to provide other dog walkers with waste bags and highlight any problem areas to council.
“Those who sign up to the scheme will be issued with council-branded materials, including poop scoop bags and special leads and collars for their four-legged friends.
“The initiative is another example of council’s commitment to protecting and enhancing an attractive, safe and sustainable environment.”
While the majority of dog walkers are responsible, fouling remains one of the most complained-about environmental issues throughout the borough.
“We regularly remind dog owners of their obligations and appeal to them to help us tackle the scourge of dog mess in our public spaces. We also want members of the public to contact us with any information regarding concerns they have about dog fouling. Every report or complaint council receives is investigated.
“We thank all those dog owners who are responsible and keep our streets and footpaths clean and safe,” the Mayor added.
The initiative, which is expected to come into effect in the borough later this month, was previously cited by the Association for Public Service Excellence as an example of good practice and has been rolled out by other local authorities in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland.
Council officers will be visiting community events and popular dog walking spots over the coming months to raise awareness and encourage the public to participate in the scheme.
School pupils will also receive information and education on responsible dog ownership.
Anybody who allows their dog to foul in public and fails to pick it up could be given an £80 on-the-spot fine. Failure to pay could result in court action, council pointed out.
For details on becoming a Green Dog Walker, or if you have any queries regarding dog fouling, please contact the senior enforcement officer at Mid and East Antrim Environmental Health office on 028 25 633120 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org