FEARS over a potentially devastating livestock disease has led to a new campaign spearheaded by Mayor of Abergavenny, Councillor Teslin Davies aimed at forcing a minority of irresponsible dog-walkers to pick up their animals’ mess and bin it.

‘Free our Town of Dog Poo’, was launched by Mayor Davies as town councillors highlight the problem during an Awareness Day which takes place today (Thursday)

With a focus on Castle Meadows, councillors will be putting up new posters thanking people for being responsible dog owners and also making dog walkers aware of the devastating consequences of Neosporosis that can be carried in dog faeces.

Castle Meadows is one of Abergavenny’s most popular destinations for dog walkers. A Facebook group of exercisers boasts more than 240 members. However, dog walkers also share the 20 hectare site with valuable grazing cattle.

A member of the group, who walks her dog on the Meadows several times a week, told the Chronicle, ‘When the cattle are present everyone keeps their dogs on a lead, but I have seen people standing, watching their dog take a poo and simply walk off - on the one occasion I plucked up the courage to confront the owners they responded with foul language and aggression. It’s so sad as the vast majority of walkers there are responsible and really appreciate the Meadows.’

Recent studies suggest that neosporosis causes over 10 per cent of all abortions in UK cattle.

It is caused by infection with the protozoa neospora caninum. Dogs are the definitive hosts as they are the animals in which the parasite becomes sexually mature and reproduces.

As part of the direct action initiative, councillors and Friends of Castle Meadows will be spraying offending ‘piles’ with chalk paint to show the scale of the problem to all dog walkers.

Councillor Davies told the Chronicle, “The Town Council has 35 dog bins installed throughout the town which are emptied weekly and dog waste can also be put in litter bins so really there’s no excuse for not clearing up after your dog.

“ I am a dog owner myself so I know this is the downside of owning a dog but it is irresponsible to leave dog mess on the streets and in our parks.”

She went on to say, “As dog poo can contain the neosporosis parasite which can cause cattle to abort, I keep my dog under close control or on a lead until she’s done her business so I can pick it up - I hope others take my lead - no pun intended.”

A spokesperson from Friends of Castle Meadows said, “Castle Meadows is a wonderful area and the meadows could be used for so many more activities such as picnics, park run, children’s activities but the one thing that hinders future plans is the amount of dog mess which is a real shame.”

Abergavenny Town Council is planning to initiate regular awareness days with the stated aim of making Abergavenny a town completely free of dog mess.

It has been estimated that the abandoned deposits produced by the UK’s eight million dogs amount to 1,000 tonnes of faeces each day.

Dog mess is one of the most common causes of complaints to local councils and four out of 10 people consider it a problem in their local area, according to the campaign group Keep Wales Tidy.

A spokesperson for the organisation stated, ‘Dog mess is an emotive issue and one of the most unacceptable and offensive type of litter on our streets. Our research shows dog fouling is the issue the public are most concerned about.’

A spokesperson for Monmouthshire County Council said, @Local authorities and Gwent Police are empowered to issue fixed penalty notices and owners failing to pick up their pet’s excrement face a £75 on the spot fine. If the person refuses to pay, and the case is taken to court the offender may be fined up to £1,000. Dog owners failing to pick up should be reported to the council.”