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Poover the answer to dale’s dog mess woes

IT might look like something out of the film Ghostbusters but the latest acquisition by a Teesdale parish council aims to tackle a much scarier problem – dog mess. 
And the device may prove the answer to the area’s dog mess misery. 
Fed up with irresponsible owners letting their dogs foul streets and greens, Gainford and Langton Parish Council has invested in a ‘poover’. 
The machine, which operates in a similar way to a vacuum cleaner, makes swift work of the doggy excrement, which has been a sticking point for local communities for years. 
As well as being unsightly, dog excrement is a health hazard and can cause toxocariasis, which mostly affects children aged between 18 months and five years. 
The disease can be passed by touching contaminated soil or sand on pram wheels or shoe soles and can cause eye disorders and fits.  
Linda Britton, chairwoman of the parish council, said the council was introducing a number of measures to reduce dog fouling in the village, including new signage and an awareness programme.
She said: “However, these things tend to take time to take real effect so we wanted to put something in place which would immediately improve residents’ quality of life and safeguard the health of our children.”
The poover cost just over £1,000 but council members say it is a good investment.
Members hope to be able to hire out the equipment to other areas of Teesdale as well as using it to clean up Gainford.
Ms Britton said: “For the benefits it delivers it’s a small investment and we are looking into hiring it out to other councils which will allow us to easily recoup the money spent.”
Gainford’s poover purchase comes in the same week as Durham County Council announced it was kicking off a month-long campaign aimed at encouraging more responsible dog ownership. 
This follows the Government’s announcement that all dogs must be microchipped by 2016. 
The county council campaign will focus on 15 target areas where dog fouling has been reported as a particular problem – one of these areas is Teesdale.
The council will be carrying out initiatives to remind people about being a responsible pet owner – including increased patrols by police community support officers and neighbourhood wardens who will be issuing fixed penalty notices to those who fail to pick up after their dog. 
There will be new temporary signs to highlight awareness of the problem, events offering free dog microchipping, education sessions in schools, promotion of the green dog walkers’ scheme and a golden ticket competition to reward responsible behaviour. 
The green dog walkers’ scheme aims to change attitudes to dog-fouling in a friendly way. Volunteers will be asked to wear a green dog walkers’ badge and carry waste bags, which can be given out to dog walkers who have forgotten to carry one. 
The badge signifies that a walker has taken the pledge to clean up after their pet, while acting as a reminder for others to do the same.
Ian Hoult, neighbourhood protection manager at Durham County Council, said: “We know that the vast majority of dog owners are responsible and that it is a minority of people who don’t clean up after their pet. 
“We are determined to tackle the problem of dog mess and take residents’ concerns over the associated health risks and environmental impact very seriously.
“We would urge residents to report dog fouling to us, providing details such as the time, date and location of the incident as well as a description of the dog and owner if possible.
“This information can help neighbourhood wardens take action against those responsible.”
Dog microchipping sessions will be  held on Saturday, February 16, at Pets at Home, Bishop Auckland, from 10am to 2pm and at Teesdale Leisure Centre, Barnard Castle, on Wednesday, February 20, from 10am to 2pm. 

20/02/2013

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