A young boy and his dog hope to encourage dog owners to pick up after their pet.

In line with Durham County Council’s countywide #FollowOurLead responsible dog ownership campaign, six-year-old Alex Forsyth from Chester-le-Street wants to help dog owners to do the right thing when it comes to exercising dogs and protecting the environment.

After becoming the proud owner of a Labrador puppy named Lily, Alex and his Mum, Victoria, began walking Lily regularly around their local area.

They soon noticed the irresponsible actions of a minority of dog walkers who had failed to pick up their dog’s waste.

Taking matters into his own hands, Alex designed an anti-dog fouling poster to persuade other dog owners to follow his lead and make sure dog foul is collected and put into a bin.

The six-year-old environmentalist, who attends Newker Primary School, said: “Please pick up your dog poo! And if you don’t… the council doesn’t think you’re a nice person, and they’ll think you’re someone who doesn’t pick up their dog poo. People don’t like dog poo. Once, I stood in a dog poo and it was horrible.”

He added: “All you have to do is bring your dog poo bag!”

The poster was sent to Alex’s local MP, Kevan Jones, and subsequently passed onto Durham County Council.

Presenting Alex with a framed print of his poster, Oliver Sherratt, head of direct services at Durham County Council said: “We are thrilled with Alex’s initiative and passion to deter other dog owners from acting irresponsibly.

“His eye-catching design is an effective message to tell people to pick up their dog’s waste and it will be displayed as posters and on dog waste bins in the local area, including nearby Moorfoot Avenue play area.

“The artwork also complements our existing Public Space Protection Order and #FollowOurLead campaign signs displayed across the county.”

Cllr Brian Stephens, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships added: “Alex has done a fantastic job designing a poster for his local community and we hope others will follow Alex’s lead and pick up their dog’s foul.”

In addition to the posters and dog waste bin stickers, the council’s civic pride team and anti-dog fouling mascot, Scoop the dog, visited Alex’s school and delivered a responsible dog ownership session to educate all youngsters on the importance of looking after pets correctly.

Neighbourhood wardens regularly patrol areas identified as dog walking hotspots to ensure dog owners pick up after their pet.

Under the new Public Space Protection Order, anyone caught not picking up after their dog can be issued with a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice and subsequently prosecuted for non-payment.

Implemented on 1 June, the new order introduced additional enforcement powers to encourage responsible dog ownership.

In County Durham it is now an offence to:

  • allow a dog to foul without picking it up
  • allow a dog to stray
  • allow a dog to enter fenced off play areas included in the order
  • fail to put a dog on a lead when asked by an authorised officer

For more information about the Public Space Protection Order for dog control visit www.durham.gov.uk/dogcontrol

To report dog fouling online visit www.durham.gov.uk/dogfouling or to report a stray dog online visit www.durham.gov.uk/straydogs.

All incidents can also be reported by telephone – call 03000 261 000.