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No Fouls on the Football Pitch - Thumbs Up To Everyone Who Does Their Doggy Doo-Ty

There are two types of fouls that have no place on the football pitch - with dog fouling on sports grounds a potential health hazard for people as well as other dogs. Luckily, dog owners picking up after their pooches means playing fields can be enjoyed by everyone in pawesome South Hams.

Dogs on lead

As football mania reaches fever-pitch this July, new signs are being put up around the District to remind people of where and when your dog can run free and that you risk a £100 fine if you don't follow the rules.

From riverside walks to fun in the park, your dog loves spending time out and about with you. To help you to enjoy your time exploring the South Hams with your pet, here's a reminder of when your dog should be on a lead: 

  • On a road, on the pavement, or on a path shared with cyclists or horse riders
  • Where there are two or more commercial / shop premises
  • Car Parks
  • Cemeteries and Churchyards
  • Any fenced, hedged or walled pond, area of water or nature reserve
  • Alongside marked sports fields whilst organised sport is in progress
  • Areas delineated as formal gardens
  • Courtenay Park, Salcombe
  •  Any land that is covered but open to the air on at least one side and areas where the public are entitled or permitted to have access (with or without payment) IF asked to put your dog on a lead by an authorised officer

Please do not take or let your dog onto these areas below, even if it is on a lead:

  • Any fenced, hedged or walled children's play area
  • Any fenced, hedged or walled bowling green
  • Any fenced, hedged or walled tennis court
  • Any fenced, hedged or walled skateboard or BMX park
  • Any fenced, hedged or walled putting green
  • Any sporting or recreational facility pitch when sport is in play

Please also bear in mind that your dog should not be allowed onto any private gardens.

There are exceptions to the above. For example, these rules do not apply to a person who:

  • Is registered as a blind person in a register compiled under section 29 of the National Assistance Act 1948
  • Is deaf, in respect of a dog trained by Hearing Dogs for Deaf People (Registered Charity no. 293358) and upon which that person relies for assistance
  • Has a disability which affects that person's mobility, manual dexterity, physical coordination or ability to lift, carry or otherwise move everyday objects, in respect of a dog trained by a prescribed charity and upon which that person relies for assistance

Whether you're in a space that requires you to keep your dog on a lead or they can run free, you must always pick up after your dog. You're also required to carry the means to pick up after your dog. That means grabbing a couple of dog-poop bags with you every time you go out. If you don't, you can be fined £100.

It is important to pick up and dispose of dog poop properly because it can be a health hazard for humans and other animals. If you leave dog poop somewhere a child (or adult) may step in it, you risk making them very sick. In rare cases, it can even lead to brain damage and blindness. Even if a dog poops somewhere that you feel does not pose a risk to humans, leaving dog poop lying around could be dangerous for other dogs as it can spread parvovirus.  Dog poop left on the ground can also have a very serious effect on pregnant sheep and cattle, resulting in the pregnancy ending.

Whilst the vast majority of dog owners do the right thing, unfortunately it's not 100%. If you are aware of a regular dog fouling issue, you should report it on the Council website at: 

The rules are the same across England and are laid out by the Council under a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), which can be read here:   

Cllr Jonathan Hawkins, South Hams District Council's Lead Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: "Across the South Hams we follow the National Standard, which allows our spaces to be enjoyed by all, including dogs. However, for this to work and spaces to stay enjoyable, we need everyone to do their bit and really think about if their actions (or the actions of their dog) could make things unpleasant for others or cause illness."

Cllr Tom Holway, Ward Councillor for Ermington and Ugborough said: "Our open green spaces play a vital role in the wellbeing of local people and it is right that they should be enjoyed by everyone - including our four-legged friends. However, a small minority of owners failing to pick up dog-poop on playing fields is a big problem for those who use the space for sports and are putting their health at risk each time.

"The rules for sports fields like Erme Playing Fields is that dogs must be on leads when training or matches are underway. At other times the space is a designated green space for everyone's enjoyment and dogs are allowed off the lead. However, off the lead does not mean that owners can turn a blind eye to their dog's business." 

Cllr Victor Abbott, Ward Councillor for Ivybridge East and part of Ugborough, said: "Owners failing to pick up after their dogs is no joke. Luckily, there is something we can do about it. If someone is seen failing to pick up poop, we can issue Fixed Penalty Notices of £100.

"For example, at Erme Playing Fields officers are dropping by regularly to carry out spot checks, advise owners on what to do, and issue fines. The same will be happening at playing fields and spaces across the South Hams, with the aim to make sure our green spaces can be enjoyed by everyone. If there is a repeat problem with dog fouling at your local open space, make sure you report it." 

It's not just parks and open spaces where dogs and their owners can play together. If you're planning to take your dog to the coast, these are the council-run beaches where dogs are welcome at all times:

  • Slapton Sands
  • Salcombe North Sands
  • Sections of Sugary Cove
  • Bovisand  
  • Beesands

For those people who prefer a dog-free space on a beach, there are also some time restrictions in place on specified beaches managed by the Council. These are:

  • Mouthwell Sands at Hope Cove between 1 May and 30 September inclusive between the hours of 10 a.m. and 7.00 p.m. in any 24-hour period.
  •  South Sands, Salcombe between 1 May and 30 September inclusive (24 hour ban) except during Ferry operating times when dogs are permitted to cross the Sands on a lead to embark and disembark to and from the Ferry.
  • Part of Bigbury Beach between 1 May and 30 September inclusive between the hours of 10 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. in any 24 hour period.

Remember, dogs are welcome on these beaches above outside of these specified times. Other beaches in the South Hams are privately run, so check first on what rules apply for dogs. Responsible dog owners know that picking up after their dog doesn't stop there. It's also important to dispose of the bagged waste properly.

Cllr Jonathan Hawkins, South Hams District Council's Lead Member for Health and Wellbeing, added: "When it comes to over-flowing dog waste bins with bags of poop piled on top, I'd ask the owners to stop and think about if they'd be happy to tackle emptying these? It's not a pleasant job for our team, which becomes more dangerous when the bags are dumped on top or hooked on tree branches nearby. The team do their best to keep the bins emptied but at certain times they can quickly fill.  Putting a dog-poop bag on top or beside a bin is not the same as binning it and is an offence you can be fined for.

"If the dog waste bin is full, I ask dog owners to please hold onto the poop bag until they can safely dispose of it. Please also let us know there is a problem by reporting the full bin. You can do this quickly and easily by reporting it online at our website

Top tips:

  • Never let your dog walk too far from you as this makes it difficult to see where they foul.
  • Dogs will usually foul soon after being let off the lead or out of the car/at the start of a walk so be ready.
  • Pay attention at all times to what your dog is doing, don't be distracted - especially not by your mobile phone!
  • Always carry 'poo' bags. It's an offence not to carry the 'means' to pick up
  • Take a torch with you on dark evenings and early morning walks in winter.
  • Dispose of bags in a dog or litter bin, or take it home to dispose of in your household bin.
  • Not disposing of a bag correctly is also a dog fouling and littering offence.
  • Keep your dog to the boundaries of sports pitches if possible as even after picking up, residual deposits can be left. Many complaints are received concerning sports pitches from the players, who can get dog mess on themselves during a game.
  • Dog faeces left on grazing or farm land can contaminate water courses and feed grass where cattle and sheep graze. These sheep and cattle may eventually find their way into the food chain. Please pick up after your dogs on country walks - do not use the so-called "stick and flick method.

Issued 6 July 2021

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