JUST four fines have been issued for dog fouling in Cork city in 21 years.
The shockingly low figure has been blamed on the practicality of enforcing the law, which was introduced in 1997.
Cork City Council revealed the figure to elected members at City Hall last night in response to a question posed by Fianna Fáil councillor Tim Brosnan.
Mr Brosnan is one of many councillors to criticise city authorities for failing its duties in respect of tackling dog fouling in the city in recent months.
The report noted that four fines were issued by Cork City Council as part of an awareness campaign over a four-week period last April and May. Three of these fines were paid with the fourth proceeding to court.
"These four fines have been the only fines issued in respect of dog fouling offences since the Litter Pollution Act 1997 was introduced,"
the report noted.
Officials at City Hall have moved to defend their record, though, putting the low number of fines down to the 'extremely challenging and time consuming' practicalities associated with catching and fining perpetrators.
Under section 22 of the Litter Pollution Act 1997, litter wardens must actually witness 'both the dog depositing faeces and the person in control of the dog neglecting to remove the faeces.'
Alternatively, a member of the public who witnesses an offence can make a complaint to Litter Management at City Hall, with fines an option if the complainant is willing to go to court and provide evidence.
However, the desire to preserve anonymity often acts as a barrier for witnesses in such cases.
The report continued, "It should be noted that by their very nature, the vast majority of instances of dog fouling occur early in the morning, early in the evening or late at night, outside of the times when litter wardens are on duty and oftentimes dogs are left out unaccompanied to foul thus making it almost impossible to issue fines for these offences."
Last year, Blackpool-based city councillor Kenneth O’Flynn highlight what he called a growing problem of dog fouling, saying he counted more than 100 samples of dog poop on a walk along Blarney Street.