While dog owners are legally required to pick up after their pets in public places, horse riders are not and can continue on their journey without cleaning up the mess their animal left behind. Now an outraged runner has taken to social media to question why there’s one rule for one and one for another when it comes to animals relieving themselves in public places.
Explaining how they went out for a run and spend most of their time “dodging horse poo”, the runner asked people on Reddit: “Why is it acceptable for horse’s poo to not be cleared up, but not acceptable at all for dog poo to not be cleared up?” The question sparked a debate – with many social media users split.
According to one user, it is all to do with public health. They explained: “Herbivore poo doesn’t contain the same sorts of dangerous bacteria that carnivore/omnivore poo does.”
Their answer has been backed by the law. A spokesman for Waverley Borough Council told SurreyLive in 2018: “One of the reasons that there are no legislation or enforcement powers covering horse dung is that unlike dog fouling, horse dung from a healthy horse presents no risk to human health.”
The science shows that risks to health are higher with meat-eating dogs as their poo can contain bacteria such as Salmonella, E. Coli and Campylobacter, which can be dangerous if transmitted to other pets or humans.
While a horses’ plant-based diets mean the risks of toxins are significantly lower, even if their piles of manure on the road are more sizeable.
As explained by Environment Law, there is national and local legislation in place covering dog mess.
A statement on the site says: “If you are a dog owner, you have a legal duty to clean up every time your dog messes in a public place.
“Registered blind people are not required to clean up after their guide dogs. There is also exemption for dog owners on some kinds of public land in England and Wales.”
It continues: “In England and Wales, local authorities can introduce public spaces protection orders, making it an offence not to clean up dog mess in certain areas. Under those orders, a person who doesn’t clean up after their dog may face an on-the-spot fine of up to £80.
“These fines are known as fixed penalty notices. If a person refuses to pay they can be taken to the local Magistrates Court for the dog fouling offence and fined up to £1,000.
“The system of controlling dog fouling under public spaces protection orders was introduced by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. It replaces the old system of dog control orders under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.
“In Scotland, The Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003 makes it an offence for a person in charge of a dog in a public open space, including communal areas but not including agricultural land, not to clear up after the dog has defecated.
“The maximum fine for the offence is currently £500. Local authorities must authorise at least one person to issue fixed penalty notices for the offence. Fixed penalty notices can be issued by such persons and by the police. The fixed penalty is currently set at £40.”