A STUDY into the amount of fines handed out to pet owners has revealed Barnsley is the worst-hit place in the country for dog fouling.

The probe - carried out by Kennel Store - delves into council-issued fixed penalty notices from 2017 to 2020.

In 2017, 138 fines were handed out by enforcement officers employed by Barnsley’s six area councils, followed by 176 in 2019, 73 in 2019 and 58 in 2020 - thought to be lower than normal due to prolonged periods of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic - which totals 445.

The figure places the town at the top of the list, followed by Wirral Council’s 430, and is almost 100 fines more than third-placed Burnley Borough Council.

Barrow-in-Furness Borough Council, City of London and Leeds City Council all reported no dog poo fines in the last five years, making these the cleanest areas in the UK.

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Neil Hutchinson, from Kennel Store, said: “We conducted the study because we know that the biggest annoyance regarding dogs in the UK is dog fouling.

“We wanted to see which councils in the UK are the most vigilant for fining people for their dogs defecating on the pavements.

“Dog fouling is illegal in the UK and the law states that being unaware a dog has fouled or not having a suitable bag is not a reasonable excuse, and could result in dog walkers being penalised.

“Not only this, but it is extremely dangerous as contact with dog excrement can cause toxocariasis - a nasty infection that can lead to dizziness, nausea, asthma and even blindness or seizures.

“When investigating fine procedures in each district council, we discovered some councils do not implement fines, and alternatively they offer education as to why not picking up dog excrement is dangerous and the importance of keeping our streets clean.”

A public space protection order (PSPO) was first brought in across the town centre and some residential streets in 2016 - effectively banning offenders from entering the area - but it’s since been adapted to include issues with dogs, such as fouling and requiring pets to be kept on leads in certain areas.

Fines can be issues to anyone over the age of 11 - when a fine is paid it is an admission to the offence and prosecution can be avoided.

For those who do not pay the FPN issued to them for dog fouling offences, prosecutions through the court can follow and this can lead to a fine of up to £1,000.

Cabinet members will meet on Wednesday to discuss a town centre-specific PSPO - which ends this month - in order to extend its term for another three years, joining the current dog control version that came into effect last March.

A report added: “During 2020 we carried out a consultation with Barnsley residents about putting in place a PSPO for the purposes of dog control to keep our neighbourhood safe and clean.

“Over 1,000 responses were received during the consultation and many residents agreed that a number of things needed to be put into place for the whole borough, to make the environment a cleaner and safer place.

“As part of this order we do expect a person in charge of a dog to follow these rules.

“Posters have been put up around the borough reminding people of these rules and anyone not following them may be fined up to £1,000.”