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Please clean up after your dog

A multi-pronged campaign to get dog owners to clean up after their pets has been launched by Boston Borough Council.

New signs in Central Park urge dog owners to act responsibly and warn of the possible harmful health effects of failing to remove faeces, such as causing blindness in children. They also warn that those who fail to clean up face a fine of £75.

Recently as many as 40 piles of dog poo have been found left in Central Park. Park staff will remove any not cleaned away and remind returning dog owners of their responsibility by leaving a chalk-sprayed "no dog mess" sign on the ground where previously they failed to pick up.

New dog poo bag dispensers have been placed in the park so that no pet owners have the excuse that they had forgotten their bags.

Graphic signs illustrate in pictures the risks of leaving dog mess behind with images of the worms in dog faeces which carry the disease which can infect a child and lead to blindness. They carry the message "Be a responsible dog owner" in English, Polish, Latvian, Russian and Portuguese.

Others placed around the park urge dog owners to clean up or risk a £75 fine.

The problem of dog mess is one aspect of street cleanliness being investigated by a special Boston Borough Council task and finish group which is soon to report on a whole raft of proposals to help keep the town clean.

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Members of the street cleanliness task and finish group with some of the campaign material in Central Park. It includes a "no fouling" stencil which will be used to leave a chalk sign on the ground where council staff have had to clear up uncollected dog mess. From left: Rob Lauberts, Cllr Aaron Spencer, Cllr Mary Wright, Cllr Mark Baker, Cllr Michael Brookes and Tom Ashton

Chairman, Cllr Mark Baker, said: "We have fine-tuned the dog poo campaign. An initial idea to mark with flags where owners have failed to clean up will be replaced with the signs sprayed on the ground with chalk. We hope this will be a more visible reminder and deterrent. The spray is non-toxic and will weather away gradually. We recognise that it's quite a new and bold step to take, and it may have its critics, but urgent and attention-grabbing action is required."

Cllr Yvonne Gunter, portfolio holder for parks and open spaces, added: "With all the other measures no visitor to Central Park with a dog will have any reason or excuse not to clean up. We recognise that, for most, their dog is a valued member of the family - their pet may be their only constant companion - and we want to be able to welcome them all into Central Park. But they must accept responsibility for clearing away what their pet deposits. No one can say that is unreasonable, especially when you consider the potential risks to human health. I do hope you will help us to achieve a clean park for everyone."

Cllr Baker said dogs, being creatures of habit, return to the same place and that's when irresponsible owners will be confronted by a sign sprayed on the ground - evidence that someone else has found what they haven't bothered to collect.

Central Park is enjoyed by families, especially during the summer months, when they picnic and play games. The last thing any parent wants to deal with is a child who has trodden in dog dirt or, even worse, fallen into it.

Not only is it obnoxious, it is dangerous. Toxocariasis is the disease caused by the eggs of the roundworm toxocara which can be passed from dogs to humans through contact with the animal faeces.

Children, especially toddlers, are at more risk from infection because they play on the ground and are more likely to put fingers and toys in their mouths.

Once swallowed, the eggs hatch into larvae in the intestines and burrow out through the body.

Depending upon the route taken by the larvae, the symptoms of toxocariasis can vary from general malaise, dizziness, bronchitis and headache, to serious cases such as asthma, epilepsy and sight impairment. The illness lasts for years and is very difficult to treat.

Advice includes children not mixing play on the ground with eating finger food - a basic definition of children at a picnic in the park!.

Which is why good general personal hygiene is essential, especially hand washing before eating.

Pet owners should regularly worm dogs and cats.

It is an offence for the person in charge of a dog, whether or not they are the owner, not to clean up immediately after the dog has fouled, punishable by a fixed penalty fine of £75. In the magistrates' court the maximum fine is currently £1,000.

Bagged waste should  be put in a designated dog waste bin. Bagged and sealed dog waste may also be placed in ordinary litter bins. On all other occasions your dog waste should be taken home and disposed of with your domestic waste

Plastic dog poo bags are available, free of charge, from Boston Borough Council at reception at Municipal Buildings in West Street and reception at the Fen Road depot and now from dispensers in Central Park.

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Please clean up... Cllr Yvonne Gunter with one of the new dog poo bag dispensers in Central Park