A VILLAGE community group is encouraging pet owners to “take the lead” and stop dog fouling in the area.

Pencaitland & District Community Council discussed concerns about dog fouling in the village at the group’s meeting this month.

The group has since met with East Lothian Council’s dog warden and the local authority’s deputy leader, Councillor Shamin Akhtar, to discuss the issue.

It comes after concerns were raised by Pencaitland Youth Football Club (PYFC) that coaches had to pick up dog mess from the playing fields at Pencaitland Park ahead of the P1 and P3 games last month.

A spokesperson for the club said at the time: “PYFC just had our first session back after the holidays.

“I and other volunteer coaches spent much of our time cleaning up dog dirt.

“Both the primary ones and primary threes played on pitches that had dog dirt on them as, although we do our best, it’s very difficult not to miss some when so many dog owners have been so irresponsible and selfish.

“Can I appeal to everyone to respect the public spaces we have and take care of them?”

Carol Finneron, chair of Pencaitland & District Community Council, said that there were “no exceptions” when it came to cleaning up dog mess and encouraged anyone who witnessed a dog owner not cleaning up after their pets to report the incident online.

She said: “We were alerted to reports that, prior to a match on the pitch at Pencaitland Park, parents and volunteers had to scour the grounds to pick up doggy deposits left by either inattentive owners or those that think it’s OK to enter the park and allow their pets to poop without cleaning up. It isn’t, no exceptions.

“As a community, we need every person to take responsibility for their pets and take advantage of the huge range of footpaths, pavements and forest walks we are lucky enough to enjoy.

“It’s not only unpleasant for those who are forced to clean up the pitch of poop, it’s a health hazard.

“Dogs may deposit roundworm eggs in their faeces, which become infectious after about three weeks and can remain so for up to two years.

“That’s also why you can be fined up to £500 for not cleaning up and this applies everywhere in the county.

“Take the lead. We are asking every responsible dog owner to exercise discretion and lead by example by not bringing dogs onto the pitch and kids’ play areas.”

An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “All dog owners and walkers exercising dogs in public parks, play areas and open spaces are reminded to clear up after their dog and ‘bag it and bin it’ in either the public bins provided or at home.

“Unfortunately, a minority fail to act responsibly, which can pose health problems, so it’s especially important that dog mess is removed immediately.

“Those who fail to pick up after their dog has fouled can be issued with an £80 fine”