UNDERCOVER wardens using night-vision goggles are to start following people and staking out hot-spot areas to target dog fouling.

Hyndburn’s team of dog wardens are to use covert techniques to crackdown on the problem including the use of plain clothes officers and surveillance vans after an increase in complaints.

The wardens, who were asked by borough councillors to step up patrols in the worst affected areas, are urging residents to supply intelligence of regular offenders who they should be following.

The campaign will see people encouraged to ‘name and shame’ by contacting Hyndburn Council with details of people who regularly flout the dog fouling laws.

A team, led by Hyndburn’s dog warden Fran Gibbons, will continue regular patrols in uniforms but will also use information from the public to stake out certain places covertly.

The 40-year-old, who has been a dog warden for 10 years, said: “Dog fouling is a serious problem and that is why we are taking such serious measures.

“It can cause blindness so it is very important to keep the borough as clean as we can and end this problem. If an older person or young child happens to slip and get something in their eye, within months their sight could be gone.

“To have someone lose their sight simply because someone was too irresponsible to clean up after their dog is unacceptable.

“It’s massively unhygienic as well as dangerous and there is no excuse for not cleaning up after your dog.”

Rishton councillor Ken Moss, who launched a campaign for councils to gain powers to raise instant dog fouling fines to £1,000, has asked the Hyndburn wardens team to step up action in the town.

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.”

Coun Moss launched a campaign last year ago calling on the government to award council dog wardens the power to impose £1,000 on-the-spot fines.

After the bid was reported in the Lancashire Telegraph, 85 per cent of readers said they backed the idea in an online poll.

Hyndburn currently hands out £75 penalties in line with neighbouring authorities, whose fines range from £50 to £75.

Second time offenders can be taken to Hyndburn Magistrates Court where they face fines of up to £1,000. The council has historically taken a tough stance on the issue, employing one of the first dog wardens, becoming the first to ban dogs without leads from cemeteries and piloting a special street sweeper nicknamed the ‘Super Dooper Pooper Scooper’.

Council leader Miles Parkinson said: “It’s unacceptable that residents across the borough have to suffer the actions of an irresponsible few. I hope residents do realise we take it extremely seriously.”

In the past three years, the council has fined 50 people for failing to clear up after their pet.

Opposition leader Peter Britcliffe said: “It’s a great idea. We need to do all we can because people who let their dogs foul are an absoulte menace.”

The biggest threat to health from dog mess is toxocariasis, an infection of the roundworm toxocaracanis. The eggs of the parasite can be found in contaminated soil or sand and if swallowed or contact is made with the eyes, can result in infection.

Residents can anonymously give information of anyone they see or know to be allowing their dog to foul by using contacting the dog wardens at Hyndburn Council on 01254 388 111.