COUNCILS in Gwent have received more than 4,500 complaints of dog fouling in recent years, but enforcement remains a huge challenge.

Between July 2017 and July 2020, Gwent's five local authorities issued just 113 penalties to offenders - and 41 of those were never paid.

The figures highlight the difficulties involved in penalising the culprits - enforcement officers literally have to catch dog owners in the act.

One council said it was investing in educational schemes as an alternative way of tackling this unsightly problem in its community spaces.

“The council takes a zero tolerance approach to dog fouling, but enforcement can be difficult as it relies on officers being present to witness the offence," a spokeswoman for Caerphilly County Borough Council (CBC) said.


­How many reports and penalties did each council handle?

Council data, obtained via Freedom of Information requests, show wide disparities in the number of complaints each local authority receives.

South Wales Argus:

Caerphilly CBC received more than 1,000 dog fouling reports last year, while Newport council received just 66.

In the period July 2017 to July 2020, Blaenau Gwent council received 790 dog fouling reports and issued 31 penalties, of which 14 were paid.

In the same period, Caerphilly CBC received 2,680 reports and issued 46 penalties - of which, 34 were paid.

Monmouthshire council received 301 dog fouling reports and issued one penalty, which was paid. The council has not issued a dog fouling penalty since July 2018.

In the same 2017-20 period, Newport City Council received 141 dog fouling reports and issued 15 penalties - of which, nine were paid.

And Torfaen council received 783 reports and issued 20 penalties - 14 were paid.

How do councils respond to complaints?

The Caerphilly CBC spokeswoman said: "When complaints are received from members of the public regarding a specific location we target our patrols on that area in an attempt to catch the offenders.

"Officers will always try and speak to dog walkers to educate them and signage is also erected around hotspot areas."

Councils can also use Public Space Protection Orders to tackle specific areas where antisocial behaviour has been reported.

For pet owners, this can include rules that dogs must be kept on leads, and fines for dog walkers who do not carry bags for their pets' waste.

In more serious and repeated cases, councils have powers to ban pets from sports pitches and play areas if there are complaints about owners leaving mess behind.

In Caerphilly, the council is expanding its awareness and educational campaigns to help people clean up their act.

"The council is constantly looking for new ways to communicate messages around dog fouling to the public and in recent years has issued a number of campaigns, utilising web, press, posters, social media and video," the Caerphilly CBC spokeswoman said. "In addition, our officers have visited schools throughout the county borough to talk to pupils about littering and dog fouling."

Residents of Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen can report dog fouling on their council websites.