ZERO on-the-spot fines for dog control violations were issued in Cork city last year, a Government report has shown.
City Hall official did not pursue a single prosecution against non-compliant dog owners for issues such as dog fouling or lack of leashes and muzzles in public places - despite employing a full-time and part-time dog warden alongside four litter wardens.
In contrast, Cork County Council issued 426 fines to dog owners and pursued 95 through the courts.
The Litter Pollution Act requires that a person in charge of a dog shall immediately remove dog faeces from a public place or face an on-the-spot litter fine of €150.
The maximum court fine is €3,000.
City Hall bylaws also require dogs to be kept on a leash at all times in public and dangerous breeds are required to be muzzled.
The city council’s chairman of the recently established dog control taskforce, Fianna Fáil councillor Ken O’Flynn, claimed he is “unconcerned” about the lack of fines and said the local authority is focusing in changing behaviours, providing dog owners with better facilities and exploring voluntary DNA testing for dog owners.
He has warned it may take as long as two decades to change dog owner behaviour in relation to dog fouling in the city.
“We have agreed to put in a number of bins in the northside and the southside as a preliminary scheme,” Mr O’Flynn told the Echo.
“We are giving out free bags in the city. It’s a very slow process but we are beginning to reap the reward of the fightback.
“However, this is a case of re-educating and changing people’s minds.
"I have given the instruction as chairman of the task force to meet with the town council of the Borough of Barking and Dagenham in the UK which has introduced DNA tagging of dogs on a voluntary basis and we are exploring that.
“We need to get our database right for dog licences and we need to get the best DNA testing available to us.
“It’s not something we can fix overnight but it could take 20 years to change this. I’m not too concerned about fines, I would much prefer to see changes in attitudes and behaviour.” Mr O’Flynn added.
However, Labour councillor John Maher feels enforcement must be increased.
“We’re not going to fix the problem if there are zero fines,” Mr Maher told The Echo.
Cork City Council was asked by The Echo why it issued no on-the-spot fines to dog owners last year and what its €127,500 bill under the Control of Dogs Act was spent on.
No details were given.
A spokesperson for the local authority said its dog wardens are primarily focused on dangerous and nuisance dogs and it has increased its number of dog wardens to three.