Councillors have unanimously backed tougher measures on North-east dog-owners who fail to clean up after their pets.
The new move, approved by the council’s infrastructure services committee, will see a substantial increase in the number of officers trained and authorised to serve fixed penalty notices, and local residents encouraged to report offenders.
The authority’s Environmental Health Service is to promote a Clean Dog-Walking Campaign, working with Community Planning partners, local communities and other partners.
Free dog waste bags are to be made available from a greater range of council offices, and consideration will be given to the installation of more dog waste bins where appropriate.
Areas which are particularly prone to dog fouling will be targeted for investigation on a prioritised basis.
SNP councillors Rob Merson and Allan Hendry have frequently called for tougher action on dog owners who allow their animals to foul pavements and playparks.
Councillor Hendry said: “Failing to clean up dog faeces is an offence for which owners can receive a £40.00 fine, but my understanding is that less than 50 notices have been issued in Aberdeenshire to date.
“Part of the reason for that is that we have had too few dog wardens to monitor the situation, and that is why I have repeatedly called for training to be given to other council officers so that they, too, can issue fixed penalty notices.
“I am therefore very pleased to hear that a more determined approach has now been agreed.”
Councillor Merson, who sits on the infrastructure services committee, said: “Councillors all too often receive complaints of dog fouling in public areas and, worse still, of owners ‘exercising’ their dogs in children’s play areas and school playgrounds.
“I was therefore very pleased to support these new measures, and trust that the higher likelihood of being reported and fined will act as a serious disincentive to such anti-social behaviour.”
East Garioch Green Councillor Martin Ford said: “I certainly welcome the council giving a higher priority to trying to reduce the problem of dog fouling.
“It is both unpleasant and a serious health hazard, and the problem needs to be tackled proactively by the council.”
Recently, a new move was launched in Formartine to deter dog-fouling. Portable signs are moved around the area to places where mess is a problem.
The signs highlight that not picking up after dog-fouling is an offence and include the phone number for the local dog warden.