Council sending dog mess on common away for DNA tests

SAMPLES of dog mess found on L’Ancresse Common are being sent to England for DNA record-keeping.

This is being done by the Vale Commons Council to tackle the issue of a few ‘unaware or uncaring’ dog owners who are not clearing up after their pets and are ruining the common for other users.

A member of the council explained how there are some areas of real concern, and these are where the samples are being collected.

It costs around £35 for the material to be sent off, tested and stored until Guernsey introduces a dog DNA database, when not-picked-up mess will be able to be traced back to the dog owner.

However, when asked how work on an official Guernsey DNA database was progressing, a spokesman for Environment & Infrastructure said it was only a concept at this time.

The council hopes to be in the lead, however, with a list of the worst offenders who could then be held accountable.

‘There are various competing issues with the common. For example, telling people they cannot walk dogs there is absolutely out of the question, but we want to keep it nice for the other habitants of the common,’ a member said.

‘The council does not want to be heavy-handed but pressure on the common has increased enormously and we have to perform a rather difficult balancing act to make sure dogs are kept under control in all manner of their behaviours but also give people and their animals the freedom to enjoy the big open space.’

Talmai Morgan with his dog, Maggie, thinks a DNA database would be ‘grossly disproportionate’. (29420625)

Talmai Morgan lives next to the Common and walks his dog, Maggie, there for a couple of hours every day.

Believing that the majority of dog owners were highly responsible, he was fed up with local authorities ‘arrogating more responsibility to themselves’.

‘The Vale Common Council’s idea of DNA testing dog mess is grossly disproportionate to the issue and would be an arbitrary exercise of executive power.

‘What we are seeing is the pillorying of dog owners by dog-hating weirdos.’

He believed the behaviour of cyclists on the common should be of more concern.

However, dog owners Jan Page and Gwyn Williams-Yeagers believed there was an issue with dog mess and DNA sampling could be a reasonable step to take if it was policed properly.

‘Dog walkers do all get tarred with the same brush, even though the majority are very considerate and do pick up after their dogs,’ Mrs Williams-Yeagers said.

Mrs Page added: ‘The main problem is when people pick it up but chuck the bag in the gorse – there’s plenty of bins around here.’

They hoped the exercise would not turn into a witch-hunt and although they do sometimes pick up other dog mess that they see lying about, it is not something they particularly like having to do.

Dog mess on the common discussed at council AGM

DOG mess was on the agenda at the Vale Commons Council annual meeting.

President Peter Blake said afterwards it was useful to hear people’s views on the matter.

‘The majority of people want the problem sorted and we know it’s just a small minority who are spoiling it for the rest,’ he said.

‘There were one or two at the meeting who were against legislation because they think there’s enough restrictions on them now, but if you can’t rely on everyone to do what they’re supposed to do then legislation has to be in place.

‘We’ve got a long way to go down that road yet before it gets to any major changes. The States vet is trying to get this through the States, so it’s going to take a long time.

‘Some people don’t agree with it, they probably do pick up and they don’t think it’s necessary, so they see it as an expense that they don’t want, but you won’t please everybody.’

There was also a discussion about a proposed toilet for golfers on the common.

The Royal Guernsey Golf Club has applied for planning permission to build toilets between the 11th green and 12th tee off the road towards the Beach House Cafe at Pembroke, where there are public toilets.

The planning application shows that the ground level would be lowered in order to allow for concealment within the surrounding gorse.

A call of nature can be a difficult thing for golfers because, under a strict interpretation of the rules, they are not allowed to leave the parameters of the course to relieve themselves.

An estimated two-thirds of the people at the habitants meeting seemed to think the small development was acceptable.

La Societe’s conservation herd has proved a popular addition to the commons with positive feedback from walkers.

The herd has been near L’Ancresse car park but was due to be moved.

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