Ground-dog day for Rugby woman fined again for letting dogs off lead in cemetery
A RUGBY woman who let her dogs run off the lead in a cemetery faces an £800 legal bill - little more than a year after she was fined for a similar offence.
Georgina Clarke, of Cambridge Street, was found guilty in her absence at Nuneaton's Warwickshire Justice Centre of breaching the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which enforces dog control in the borough.
Clarke was prosecuted by Rugby Borough Council after she was spotted with her Chihuahuas in Clifton Road cemetery by council community wardens on a routine patrol on 13 March.
One of the wardens recognised Clarke and called out to her, explaining the council had received a number of complaints about dogs defecating in the cemetery and she had been frequently reminded dogs had to be kept on a lead.
Clarke claimed she always picked up her Chihuahuas' faeces but, when challenged, admitted only when she could find her dogs' deposits.
Four days later, one of the wardens was driving on Park Road when she spotted Clarke and a child in Caldecott Park with both dogs off the lead.
The warden spoke to Clarke and told her she was again breaching the PSPO - and after claiming she thought the PSPO only applied to cemeteries, she put the dogs on a lead.
Clarke was prosecuted for both breaches of the PSPO - failing to keep her dogs on a lead in a designated area - which she committed despite being fined £80 and ordered to pay £361 costs in April 2017 after failing to pay a Fixed Penalty Notice for walking her dogs off a lead in Clifton Road cemetery.
Magistrates found Clarke guilty of both breaches at a hearing on Tuesday (26 June), fining her £220 and ordering her to pay £556 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
Speaking after the hearing, Cllr Lisa Parker, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for environment and public realm, said: "The Public Space Protection Order which enforces dog control in Rugby forms part of the council's wider work to encourage responsible dog ownership.
"Allowing a dog to defecate in a cemetery goes way beyond the boundaries of common decency, and as a council we have a duty to make sure our cemeteries, parks and green spaces remain a safe environment for residents to visit.
"A magistrate commented it was a 'very expensive dog walk' when this lady was first fined for ignoring the rules on dog control.
"Hopefully, this latest legal bill sends a clear message to all dog owners of the need to think of others while taking a pet out in public."
For more information on the PSPO enforcing dog control in Rugby, visit www.rugby.gov.uk/dogcontrol