IRRESPONSIBLE dog owners have been blasted for putting the health of young football players at risk.
Ward councillor Nigel Ash has been called in because of increasing problems on Ashton’s St Oswald’s sports fields which are leaving officials having top spend up to half an hour pre-game shovelling up dog mess from the football pitch.
He has now agreed for town hall chiefs to put up new signage warning pet owners who allow their dogs to foul that they could face a fine, along with information about where pet owners can get supplies of dog excrement bags, plus new dog waste bins.
Coun Ash has also been in talks with the headteacher of St Oswald’s Primary School about ways to combat the escalating problems there.
One of the solutions will be more regular patrols by the council’s dog warden service in an attempt to catch pet owners who are turning the sports field into a canine toilet.
Coun Ash said: “Whatever measures I, the school and the council take, in the end it is up to individual dog owners to collect their dog’s mess and dispose of it in the appropriate place.
“Surely dog owners must be aware of the dangers dog faeces can have to children’s health and in the worst case scenario can be fatal.
“How they can leave their dog’s excrement on a field where young people regularly play beats me.”
Ashton Park Junior Football Club’s Ian Reilly - the club play homes games there - said that the coaches have an “ongoing major problem” with dog fouling on the pitch.
He said: “Instead of warming seven and eight-year-old children up and deploying the match tactics, coaches are instead picking up dog mess left by irresponsible owners.
“At the first game of 2014 after the Christmas break, the first job as always for the coach was to inspect the pitch and ensure it’s safe for young children.
“What greeted them was absolutely shocking and disgusting; the pitch was covered in dog excrement. It took 20 minutes to clean up and in the process they managed to fill a carrier bag. I felt physically sick after removing pile upon pile of dog dirt.
“This is a serious issue and needs to be resolved as soon as possible.
“We are appealing to dog owners to have more respect when using the field, please clean up your dog’s mess and take it with you. Why leave it for other people?”