To consider a report of the Head of Community and Public Protection. The committee is invited to provide views to officers to help inform the review of enforcement activities and shape the Dog Warden service.
The Portfolio Holder for Customer, Community and Regulatory Services introduced the report, which set out detail of a review of the dog welfare and control service, to be undertaken as part of the wider review of enforcement activities. This was a small but high profile service and there was a need to consider how best to allocate resources in this area, the important role of education and the involvement of town and parish councils. The Head of Community and Public Protection, Team Leader Public Protection and Dog Warden attended the meeting to provide information and answer questions.
Councillors considered the issues arising from the report and during discussion the following points were raised:
· With regard to the issue of dog fouling and education in this area, it was noted that there had previously been more resource available in order to do work in schools for example. There may be a need to consider ways of using social media to get messages out
· Further thought could be given to how the council could work with schools and town and parish councils in this area
· The balance between use of education and enforcement in respect of dog fouling was considered
· An example was provided of a parish council providing dog waste bags
· Reporting of incidents could be undertaken through normal council routes including by telephone and online. The use of a reporting hotline could be considered. There was a need to bring the dog wardens together with one reporting system
· A point was made that it was important to recognise that not all dog owners were irresponsible and that community groups could be used as points of contact in local areas
· The process for dealing with reports of dog fouling was considered and the use of overt versus covert surveillance
· Resource for this area would be considered as part of the wider review of enforcement activities in Place Services to include a look at how enforcement officers could support each other across the wider service
· In response to a question with regard to the incentive to town and parish councils to provide support in this area, it was noted that the benefit would be cleaner local environments
· A current consultation relating to the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for dog control was seeking views from town and parish councils
· Discussion was also taking place in the Engaging with Town and Parish Councils Executive Advisory Panel, looking at services that town and parish councils may wish to have devolved to them
· The Dog Warden service had strong links to the Dorset Waste Partnership
· Reference was made to information on public complaints set out in the report and the difference in trends between 2018/19 and 2019/20. In response, the Head of Community and Public Protection confirmed that service convergence work may affect how information was recorded
· A specific point was raised with regard to legacy contracts
· It was noted that microchipping was assisting with incidents of stray dogs
· Issues around animal welfare were discussed and it was noted that the RSPCA provided the lead in the area alongside the Police. The council had a role in licensing in this area and specific examples were provided. The Dog Warden noted that steps would be taken if a dog required assistance such as veterinary care. The balance between the statutory and non-statutory parts of the service was recognised
· Councillors were able to spend time with the dog wardens if required.
The comments made during discussion at the meeting would be considered as part of the wider review of enforcement activities and would assist in shaping the future Dog Warden service.