The problem of dog fouling is one of the most unacceptable issues issues raised by local residents in the community. It is not only unsightly but also generates a severe public health risk. Dog fouling can contain a harmful parasite called Toxocara canis which is commonly known as round worm. Toxocara live in the digestive tracks of dogs, cats and foxes and is highly zoonotic which means it can be transmitted to humans with severe consequences. Once dogs have defecated, the eggs from the Toxocara pass out with the faeces and contaminate the ground, especially soil and can lay dormant for a number of months until contracted by humans. On average Toxocara lay approximately 200,000 eggs on a daily basis. The effects of Toxocara can range from high temperature, headaches, abdominal pain, fatigue, breathing difficulties and in worse case scenarios blindness in small children.
Fortunately, the eggs from Toxocara only become infectious after approximately 10 days which enables dog walkers to safely remove the dog faeces during their walk. The contraction of Toxocara is usually by digestion which puts younger children more at risk as they would tend to play in public area where there is the possibility of contaminated ground.
In order to help prevent contracting Toxocara it is essential that good hygiene practices are implemented such as washing hands after working in soil or handling pets. It is also essential that dog owners ensure that their dogs are vaccinated and treated against all disease and parasites by their local vets.
Under the Dog Control Orders applied through the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (NI) 2011, permitting dogs to foul in public areas without removing it is a criminal offence. Anyone detected committing this offence may receive a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 or the matter may be presented to the courts where a maximum fine of £1000 can be imposed.