DOG owners in Dudley who didn’t clean up after their pets were fined nearly £3,000 last year in an attempt to crack down on their irresponsible behaviour.

But the issuing of 28 fixed notice penalties which carry a fine of £100 represents a tiny percentage of the problem with 399 instances of fouling in open spaces being reported to the council.

The figures for the foul anti-social behaviour have been revealed in a report to Ernest Stevens Trusts Management Committee which administers and maintains three parks in the borough.

Council officers have said there were 96 instances reported in the Trust parks and last year they issued 23 warning letters and 28 Fixed Penalty Notices for dog fouling.

But the authority is limited in how it can tackle the problem as an enforcement officer normally has to witness an owner failing to remove their pet’s faeces. 

In their report to the committee council officers say that members of the public are often reluctant to give statements which can be use to fine offenders.

“Often witnesses and alleged offenders reside closely together and where witnesses feel they would be unable to testify then often the only course of action available is a warning letter.”

They add that dog fouling is not only anti social but can also cause health problems such as Toxocariasis, a ringworm in faeces which can cause blindness.

The cost of cleaning up after dog owners nationally has been estimated to cost over £22 million according to the keep Britain Tidy campaign.

The issue has confounded councils across the country. 

A scheme to DNA test faeces was rejected by Southend council last year after it was pointed out that similar projects had failed because only responsible owners had volunteered to register their pets on a database. 

Members of the committee will discuss the report at their meeting on February 19.