EAGLE-EYED residents who help to flush out dog mess in Stafford and Stone could clean up – by pocketing the cash from fines.
The £75 penalties dished out to dog owners who fail to pick up after their pets will be handed to the people who shop them.
Stafford Borough Council has launched the rewards on the back of dawn and evening patrols and the launch of a phone and email line where residents can shop dog owners. Bosses want to stamp out the problem, which is blighting some hotspot areas.
But the news has been met with mixed feelings from dog owners and comes in the wake of a range of cash incentives being offered elsewhere in the country. Neighbouring West Midlands and Derbyshire police forces are offering £1,000 to people who shop drink drivers over Christmas and new mums in areas of Yorkshire and Derbyshire are being offered shopping vouchers to breast feed.
There have already been around six prosecutions in Stafford Borough of people who have failed to clean up their pet’s mess. Last month a woman was fined when she failed to clean up after her dog in the Western Downs area.
Much of the information has been provided by responsible dog owners angry about being tarred with the same brush.
Councillor Frank Finlay, cabinet member for environment and health, said: “I think it is right that a community-minded resident, who helps us crackdown on something that is not only disgusting but can have serious health repercussions, should be rewarded – and it is the inconsiderate dog owner that should pay.
“The public have backed our zero-tolerance stance from the very beginning. They have told us who, where and when, and this has helped us fine offenders.
“So it is only right that when we take this money off those who don’t care about the environment and health of others – we should hand it over to those who do.”
But Roz Hickman, co-ordinator of Pads Dog Training in Haughton, said: “Fining people for allowing their dogs to foul is a good idea but I think the money would be better going to dog charities to educate people not to do this in the first place.
“Some charities are so desperate for money that this sort of money could help prevent some dogs being put to sleep.
“When I see someone not picking up after their dog I always offer them a bag. If I saw someone continually doing it I might think about reporting it but I wouldn’t want money for it. I think it is a step too far. I don’t understand why people have got to be given incentives to do things.”
Lynne Bakker-Collier, who runs K9 Dog Training in Stone, added: “Most people I know are responsible. We always educate people about this and tell them they should never leave the house with their dog without bags to pick up the mess.
“It is good to give people an incentive and it shows the council is not just out to make money for itself with these fines. However, I do think anyone who is going to own a dog should be aware of how important it is to pick up after them.”
Meanwhile, Staffordshire Police have ruled out paying people to shop drink drivers. The Central Motorway Patrol Group said information was already coming in via the Crimestoppers service.
Police Commissioner Matthew Ellis said: “The system seems to be working perfectly well already so why change it.”