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UK Night vision tech used in dog fouling crackdown

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Undercover wardens are using night vision technology to find and fine owners that let their dogs foul at night.

Undercover wardens are beginning to use night-vision goggles to hunt down and fine owners that let their dogs foul under the cloak of night.

After an increase in complaints over the state of sidewalks and parks, a team from Hyndburn, Lancashire England, are now using covert methods to pounce on the perpetrators -- or at least, their owners. These methods include night vision technology, plain clothes officers and surveillance vans.

"Dog fouling is a major issue for us. It's horrible to step in something unpleasant when you are out for a walk," said Councillor Miles Parkinson.

"Through the work of our dog wardens, we have managed to reduce the problem but unfortunately we do still have those offenders who let their dogs out in the evenings and early mornings, when its dark and they think they will not be observed."

Sneaky. Not exactly pleasant when you can't see what you're stepping in to on the way home. The use of such night equipment means offenders may want to start watching their back -- wardens could be lying in wait to pounce when you don't pick up after Pongo.

Dog mess can cause toxocariasis, a parasitic infestation. The eggs of the parasite can be found in contaminated earth, and may lead to infection if a human comes in to contact with it. For children, this can be a bigger concern.

The wardens, who were asked by borough councilors to increase patrols in the worst affected areas, are also encouraging the general public to steer them towards targets who are regular offenders by 'naming and shaming' particular dog owners.

Councillor Ken Moss, who launched a campaign for local councils to be able to raise fines of up to £1000 ($1578) instantly for those caught allowing their pets to foul, has requested the Hyndburn teams to keep up the pressure. He said:

"Residents are completely disgusted by this problem and want to see us take action. I have asked wardens what they can do and they have pledged to act on any information they receive. Most dog walkers are creatures of habit and if people are regularly offending in the same spot, the wardens could use that information to stamp out the irresponsible minority."

Hyndburn currently hands out £75 ($118) penalties, the average in relation to other local councils, who impose fines of between £50 to £75. In the past three years, approximately 50 people have been fined for not cleaning up after their pet.

Apart from scaring the living daylights out of owners taking their dog for a night stroll, watch out for the wardens in goggles -- you may be looking at a hefty fine if you don't pick up.

Image credit: Tinou Bao

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure