Foul play as signs pleading with dog owners are torn down
SIGNS asking dog owners to not to let their pets foul on rugby pitches were pulled down less than 12 hours after they were put up last week.
Fed up at the growing amount of dog muck on the pitches on the upper Demesnes, Barnard Castle Rugby Club manager Malcolm Kicks put up the signs. He has vowed to keep replacing them and has urged people to “act responsibly”.
He said: "The dog muck is not a new problem on pitches, but since lockdown it seems to have got worse. I was just at my wits’ end. I put the bollards up and taped a sign to them, but when I went back in the morning they were gone.”
The pitches, which are leased from Durham County Council, have a public footpath running through them. Although training and games are suspended during the lockdown some residents are using the space to exercise.
Mr Kicks said: “The amount of dog muck we are having to clean up is beyond a joke. There are always people walking across the pitches and we are not trying to stop anyone – we’re just asking them to be responsible.”
Mr Kicks said dog muck is also being thrown into the undergrowth nearby. He added: “The thing with rugby is we play with our hands. We slide when making tackles and it’s not very often our ball stays on the pitch – it goes out into the undergrowth.
“More often than not when that happens it comes back out covered in dog muck. There is so much space around the pitches where you can take dogs for walks; lovely walks along the river or to Egglestone Abbey.
“I’m a dog owner myself and it really annoys me. It’s not just disgusting, it’s a health issue. Rugby is a contact sport and we always get cuts and scrapes and if you’re tackling the last thing you want is to slide into dog muck.”
Dog faeces can cause numerous infections, the most serious of which is toxocariasis. It can lead to blindness in children.
Mr Kicks added: “I can understand people want to exercise and have every right to walk across the pitches, but we’re just asking them to pick up the poo.
“We have to do a sweep of the pitch before a match to make sure it is clear. But we have had occasions where we’ve had to stop a game because there’s dog muck. It’s not just embarrassing, it’s disgusting.”
Pitch maintenance is continuing during lockdown, with regular grass cutting, so they can be in tip-top condition when restrictions are lifted.
Mr Kicks said the club had made a request to Durham County Council for a dog waste bin near the entrance of the pitches to be moved further up on the Demesnes to encourage walkers to use other routes but nothing had been done.
Ian Hoult, neighbourhood protection manager at Durham County Council, said: “We are lucky enough to live in a beautiful county and it is important we all do our bit to keep it that way. Dog fouling not only makes our streets, parks and paths look untidy but it poses a health risk, especially to children.
“We are looking to review bin locations in this area and we would like to remind people it is an offence not pick up after their dog, and they risk a fine by doing so.
“All owners should bag their dog’s waste and either dispose of it in a nearby bin or in their own refuse bin when they get home.”