Under Section 22 (of the Litter Pollution Act, 1997) , it is not an offence to allow a dog under your control to foul in a public place, however it is an offence to let your dog foul and fail to remove and dispose of the foul subsequently. This means that you or the person in charge of your dog is required under this law to remove dog faeces and dispose of it in a suitable and sanitary way.
An on-the-spot fine of €150 can be imposed on the owner of a dog who fails to remove dog faeces from a public place, with the maximum fine for this offence being €3,000.
Failure to clean up after your dog can result in humans, particularly children, becoming infected by a dog parasite that can cause blindness. The parasite is a worm called Toxocara canis that passes its eggs in the dogs’ stools.
What is Toxocara canis?
Toxocara is a roundworm which infects dogs in Ireland. It is rare for a dog, especially a young pup, not to be troubled by worms at some stage. Even in dogs that are regularly wormed can still carry some of these worms. The worm lives in the dog’s intestine and its eggs are passed in the dog’s stools.
What is Toxocariasis?
Toxocariasis is an infection which humans can pick up as a result of coming into contact with the eggs contained in the dog’s stools.
Although usually a mild infection in humans, Toxocariasis can have potentially serious health effects such as blindness. This is rare BUT it can and does happen.
How might someone catch it?
The Toxocarra eggs have to be ingested (i.e. taken into the mouth and swallowed) before someone can catch the infection.
This could happen if a person handles soil, sand or any other material that is contaminated with dog stools and subsequently has direct contact with the mouth before hand-washing.
Gardens, play areas and public parks are likely sites for contamination with dog stools. Children’s sandboxes frequently offer attractive sites for dogs to “relieve themselves”.