New regulations are set to give more control over dogs in designated areas of a city.
Sunderland City Council’s cabinet has backed the new measures after hearing how dog fouling continues to be one of the most consistent issues raised by the public.
James Blackburn, council portfolio holder for city services, said the council had been looking at a more effective approach to tackling dog fouling.
This included examining the powers available to the council under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act.
The council will be consulting with the public on where the dog control areas could be improved. The broader powers include five offences where measures could be introduced in defined areas.
These include failing to remove dog faeces, not keeping a dog on a lead, not putting and keeping a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer, permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded and taking more than the specified number of dogs on to land.
Fixed penalty notices of £75 could be offered as an alternative to court action.
Coun Blackburn said: “Complaints about dog fouling continue to be one of the most consistent issues raised by members of the public.
“It isn’t just about dog fouling though. The council also receives complaints from residents and park users about dogs off their leads and dogs in children’s play areas.
“We all want to enjoy our splendid and award-winning parks and beaches.
“Yet, while the majority of dog owners do act responsibly, there’s a minority that are spoiling it for everyone else and so the council is looking at Dog Control Orders.
“These orders are designed to help people enjoy their local environment even more.
“We are asking ward councillors to think about different types of orders in different areas.
“There’s a long, long list of what these control areas could be. They might include children’s playgrounds, sports courts, multi-use games areas, marked pitches when games are played, dog free zones in our parks and public gardens, and areas on our beaches.
“Within these areas there could be dogs on leads orders to prevent the exercising of dogs off-lead, restrictions on dog numbers, and direction orders authorising council officers powers to request that people put their dogs on a lead if they are not under appropriate control.
“These are in addition to dog fouling offences. The council will continue with its work allowing staff to issue fixed penalty notices to anyone in charge of a dog who does not immediately remove fouling from public areas.”
Dog Control Orders would allow the council to deal with dogs causing a nuisance to members of the public. Failing to comply with an order would become an offence.
Anyone who fails to comply with an order may be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice, currently £75, or they can face prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.
In the last year, the council has issued more than 50 warning letters about dog fouling in the Hendon area and in Roker given 16 people advice about restrictions on the beach.
“We are continuing with this work as we move towards consultation and the introduction of Dog Control Areas in 2014,” said Coun Blackburn.