Show me the poop: Woman demands Belfast council prove her dog fouled pavement
'I'd rather go to jail than pay fine'
A Northern Ireland woman has demanded Belfast City Council stump up the proof that her dog was responsible for fouling a pavement.
Ann Donohue's dog Bob has been living under a shadow after being accused of fouling and her not picking it up. Something his owner strongly denies.
It all started after a walk at the picturesque grounds of Belfast Castle in May.
Ann was out walking her three dogs when, on returning to her car she found two council dog wardens waiting to collar her.
They accused Bob of having fouled the pavement.
"But he hadn't," said Ann who first told her story to the Frank Mitchell U105 Phone-In.
"I told them it could not have been my dog and if he had of done it I would have picked it up.
"I asked them to show me the proof and they couldn't. They just said that they were responding to a complaint and that 'just because you didn't see it, doesn't mean it didn't happen'.
"I was astounded."
Ann was issued with a £80 fixed penalty notice, that could be reduced if she paid it within two weeks.
She has refused and this week her opportunity to pay it off has expired, meaning she could be facing a court appearance.
However, a solicitor has come forward to help her with the case.
"I would rather go to jail than give the council the pleasure of me paying their £80 fine," said the retired teacher who has in the past appeared in court on speeding offences.
"But that time I pleaded guilty. I'm not worried about appearing in court, but yes it's hassle and stress.
"Also I'd be concerned that the council - with all its resources - would somehow win. It would just be me against the government.
"It's a total abuse of powers to me. Others who may not have the time or the money to deal with this probably just pay the fine and move on.
"But the council has no proof and to me this is nothing more than a money-making exercise."
Ann is a volunteer with the Mid Antrim Animal Sanctuary and regularly walks dogs in desperate need of a home. Three of her dogs were rescued or abandoned, one from a puppy farm.
"I told the council wardens I had probably cleaned up more dog dirt than they had ever seen.
"I know it's a big problem in lots of areas and that's why I always make sure that I clean up after my dogs. I fully back the council's policy on this - just not then issuing fines with apparently no proof.
"There was nothing to pick it in the first place and they were just acting on someone saying it was me - which in itself is worrying."
Belfast City Council spokeswoman said: "As this is a live investigation, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.
“We would emphasise however that dog fouling is a real problem on our streets, and an issue which is consistently raised with us by ratepayers right across the city.
"The council is committed to keeping the city clean, and our dog wardens work hard, often in very challenging circumstances, to encourage all dog owners to clean up after their pets at all times.”