Derry City Council has issued more fines for dog fouling so far this year than it did in the previous five years.
Between 2006 and April of this year only two fixed penalty fines were issued in the city - over the same time period almost 400 fines were issued by Belfast City Council.
The fines - set at £50 - are enforceable if dog owners fail to clean up after their dog and aim to encourage responsible dog ownership.
A spokeswoman for Derry City Council says already this financial year - 2011/12 - three fines have been issued for fouling, with a further two fixed penalties pending.
“The difficulty however is that in order to issue fixed penalty notices or prosecutions, dog wardens or enforcement officers must witness a person permitting their dog to foul and failing to clean up after it, making it difficult for Council to impose fixed penalty notices,” she says.
The spokeswoman says the council is “very much aware” is an issue for concern.
“The Dog Control Service routinely patrols problem areas in regard to dog fouling and Council provides numerous dog foul bins throughout the council area, which are in our parks and along popular walkways.
“Dog straying also accounts for a substantial amount of dog fouling therefore Council would encourage owners to always ensure that they accompany their dog and do not let them roam free.
But she says dog owners must assume responsibility for their pets.
“Dogs can also be trained to ‘go at home’. It is recognized that a significant amount of fouling also occurs when irresponsible dog owners knowingly let their dogs out to self-exercise and toilet themselves.
“Dog foul is not only a nuisance but can be a very serious health hazard as it may contain toxocarda canis which can cause blindness.
“Dog owners should always carry a plastic bag or poop scoop bag when they walk their dog and clean up after it,” she says.
Anyone with concerns relating to dogs in their area is advised to contact the city’s dog warden service.