MORE than a dozen anti-dog fouling champions have launched Blackburn with Darwen’s drive to stop canine mess disfiguring streets, parks and open land.

The borough this week recruited its first 15 residents in the Roe Lee area to combat the unsightly health hazard which is one of the main complaints from local people.

They will be the first of dozens of community servants to champion responsible dog ownership and be the front line in tackling the blight of dog mess in neighbourhoods across Blackburn with Darwen.

The first ‘Dog Solutions’ training session involved volunteers from Friends of Blackburn Old Cemetery in Whalley New Road, Roe Lee Park Community Association and Pemberton Street residents’ group.

The champions will report incidents, survey areas for fouling, support owners who do pick up their dog’s mess and hand out ‘poop scoop’ bags. Council leader Kate Hollern hopes they will come up with ideas to solve the problem from their experience of tackling the problem.

The volunteers are given training and equipment to fulfil their roles under the council’s ‘Your Call’ community action initiative.

One champion, 32-year-old Jason Walker, who is studying for a degree at the University Centre of Blackburn, said: “I find dog fouling very offensive.

“I feel very strongly that dog fouling should not be tolerated on our streets.

“It is the responsibility of the dog owner or the person in charge to clear up any foul left by their dog. I personally think it’s great that people show they care about the area in which they live and are willing to get out there to help tackle the problem.”

The volunteers will talk to dog walkers, informing them about the seriousness of dog fouling and the possible fines they may incur.

Coun Hollern said: “There are people in the community who are passionate about making their areas cleaner, greener and safer.

“We want to harness that energy. The champions will be the front line in promoting responsible dog ownership.

“We all know that there are a small number of irresponsible pet owners.

“With the community’s help we will continue to crackdown on those who continue to be anti-social.”