OFFICIALS from three leading Kendal junior football clubs have united to sound an urgent alert about the growing problem of dog mess on pitches used by youngsters.
They say a persistent problem is now worsening at the Millennium Fields off Shap Road and the pitch at Howard Street with dog mess now widespread on the fields and warning signs constantly damaged or kicked down.
Tim Audin, secretary of Ibis, Paul Reid, a coach at Kendal United, and Eamon Robinson, chairman of Wattsfield JFC, have joined to appeal to dog owners to use common sense and stop their pets using the fields.
And the trio have pointed out that as they are all designated child welfare officers at their respective clubs and are therefore directly responsible for the well being of the junior players at their clubs, they feel they have no option but to speak out before the situation worsens.
“We are just asking for people to show consideration and common sense,” said Mr Reid.
The problem has been ongoing for some years, but the trio said it has become a greater concern in recent months.
The Westmorland Gazette recently featured wider problems at the Millennium Fields, which also included fences being broken down to gain access to the field and also broken glass caused by teenagers frequenting the secluded areas of the facility in the evenings.
But now the officials say the problem with dogs has worsened.
They added that in addition to the obvious issues, there was the clear danger of serious diseases being spread by the dog mes which can cause severe illness and affect the youngsters’ eyesight.
“There are signs which say ‘no dogs’ but they are often damaged and recently they have been kicked down,” said Mr Robinson.
“We tried putting up CCTV but we then had dog owners staying in their cars and letting their dogs out to run on the field and then jumping back in the car again.
“We have even had dogs roaming around during our games and training sessions and some even barking at the kids.”
Mr Robinson said some of the dogs were very intimidating especially for the many youngsters who were afraid of dogs.
Mr Audin said that as child welfare officers for their respective clubs, they had a burden of responsibility over the issue.
He added that the problem was not helped by the fact that contradictory signs had been displayed.
A sign saying ‘no dogs’ had at one point been put up next to another sign saying ‘dogs must be kept on a lead’ which was clearly sending out a confused message.
The officials explained that it was a very difficult issue to address practically as it was not possible to fence off the playing areas and in any case as they were public areas it was not possible to restrict access.
The trio said they had been in touch with South Lakeland District Council who said they were aware of the issue and were examining ways to address it.
They added that they were aware of clubs in other areas of the country, including one in Barrow, who had been forced to suspend their fixtures as they problem as so bad.