The question is: “Can a cat or dog owner be punished by the local authority or sued by their neighbours for allowing their cat or dog to poop in their backyard frequently without cleaning up the mess?” And the answer is yes! But it depends on the circumstances.
And the answer is based upon what is called a tort, a civil wrong, and in this instance the tort of nuisance. This has been adopted by local authorities in many countries and they often take over the role of punishing people who create a nuisance for other neighbours. In this example the nuisance (uses a legal term in this instance) was smell and health problems.
A recent story highlights how it works. It comes from the UK. A dog owner in County Durham, in the north of England, allowed his dog to regularly poop in his unkempt backyard resulting in faeces lying around everywhere. Horrible.
The neighbours got fed up with the smell and complained to the local authority. They, in turn, approached the individual requesting (four times) that he change his ways and he failed to do so. They served him with a Community Protection Warning.
The perpetrator failed to respond and therefore they were prosecuted resulting in a court order in his absence and they find them £754. The person didn’t attend court. The neighbours are delighted but will he/she change their ways?
I have a feeling that nothing will change and in fact I have a feeling to that he or she won’t pay the fine either.
It wasn’t just the smell which was a legal nuisance, there was a health problem as well which the authorities considered to be unacceptable.
The story highlights how dogs and cats pooping in public places isn’t the only way that a cat and dog owner can rub up against the law both civil and criminal. It can happen in their backyard.
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