Action taken by East Devon Environmental Health team results in successful prosecution of dog owner

East Devon District Council’s Environmental Health team has successfully prosecuted a dog owner who persistently let his dog stray in Ottery St Mary. The prosecution was necessary because the dog owner failed to pay his fixed penalty notice - anyone who does not pay a fixed penalty is likely to have action taken against them in the Magistrates Court.

At a recent hearing at Exeter Magistrates Court, Mr Joe Daly from Ottery St Mary was fined £220 for regularly allowing his fox terrier, Hardy, to stray in the town.  Mr Daly lives in Chapel Lane and Hardy had been able to escape from the garden for several months.  Many local people had seen Hardy around and had often returned him home.  Mr Daly had received advice from both the council and the neighbourhood policing team on several occasions.

In January 2019 Hardy escaped and ran up to two other dogs and tried to mate with them. Their owners intervened and one was bitten.  Several people were involved and they returned Hardy to his garden.  Since that time Hardy has escaped again. It appeared that Mr Daly had not taken any action to prevent this happening and the dog was a risk to itself and also other people in the area.

Within East Devon there are a number of dog controls, called Public Spaces Protection Orders.  As well as requiring owners to pick up after their dogs wherever they are, and to comply with the various dog ban areas, these orders also require owners to always keep their dogs on a lead on roads and pavements. 

This requirement is intended to prevent straying and encourage all dog owners to keep their dogs safe and under control when away from home.  Mr Daly was issued with a fixed penalty notice for £80 for the offence. Despite several reminders, he failed to pay the fine, which meant enforcement action was taken.  On 25 July 2019 magistrates decided that Mr Daly was guilty of the offence and fined him £220, with £400 costs also being awarded to the council.  Mr Daly failed to appear at the hearing or to contact the court as he had been invited to do. 

The Environmental Health team investigates a number of different fixed penalty offences, including those for littering and fly tipping as well as the dog related offences.  Where evidence is found or provided that leads to the identification of the offender they will always take appropriate action. 

Anyone issued with a fixed penalty is advised to comply with the requirements of the notice because enforcement action will always be more costly.  As well as this recent case, officers pursued an Exmouth fly tipper last year and she was awarded fines and costs of £1,500 instead of paying her £200 fixed penalty.

Cllr Geoff Jung, portfolio holder for Environment, said:

Officers from our Environmental Health team have worked hard over the last few years spreading the message about the importance of being a responsible dog owner.  This is not just best for dogs, it is best for people living within our communities who do not want to be put at risk by other people’s dogs.  We have a commitment to act on any information received about breaches of the public spaces protection orders, and will issue fixed penalty notices in all cases where reliable evidence has been received.  Fixed penalties are issued for littering and fly tipping as well as for dog related offences, and the council will pursue any non-payment through the courts.

More information about fixed penalty offences can be found on the East Devon website.