Patrols are being stepped up in a bid to crack down on dog fouling in cemeteries.
Northumberland County Council enforcement officers will be on patrol in cemeteries where dog owners have been seen allowing their dogs to roam around the cemetery grounds and foul on graves and headstones.
Council cemeteries are subject to dog control orders which require dogs to be kept on a short lead, not more than 1.5 metres in length, at all times and must be under control. An extendable lead is not permitted.
Like all other public places, it is an offence to allow a dog to foul and not clean up. Signs at all the entrances to the cemetery instruct dog owners to keep their dogs on leads.
The council has received an increasing number of complaints of dogs fouling in cemeteries, especially in the Bedlington and Blyth areas.
Officers will be patrolling across Northumberland, with a zero-tolerance policy. Failure to comply with this requirement is an offence which carries an on-the-spot £100 fixed penalty fine or possible court prosecution and up to £1,000 fine.
Coun Glen Sanderson, cabinet member with responsibility for the environment and local services, said: “Most responsible dog walkers observe the signs and ensure their dogs are kept under control within the cemetery grounds, but an inconsiderate minority need to be reminded that the cemetery is a place for reflection and remembrance, not a recreation area or a place to exercise dogs.
"Such anti-social and irresponsible behaviour on the part of dog owners is profoundly disrespectful within a cemetery where families have buried loved ones."
Stephen Kelly, senior cemeteries team leader, said: " It’s very upsetting for people who are coming to visit their loved ones’ graves and they are finding dog mess there. We have had people contact us because they are upset that dogs are running around the cemetery when they are trying to pay their respects to loved ones."
Instances of dog fouling in cemeteries can be reported to Northumberland County Council via www.northumberland.gov.uk or by ringing 0345 6006400