Woman who let dog off lead at graveyard forced to pay £900
A woman who let her dog run around a Stafford graveyard has been ordered to pay more than £900 by magistrates.
The court was told Stafford Borough Council had received complaints from people paying respects to loved ones at the town's Eccleshall Road cemetery about dogs being allowed to roam the grounds.
Signs at all the entrances to the cemetery instruct dog owners to keep their pets on leads.
Mel Foster, of Alliance Street, Stafford was handed a £75 fixed penalty notice for not keeping her dog on a lead - but magistrates at the North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard she had not paid the fine.
She did not turn up to answer the charge at court last week and was found guilty in her absence.
She was fined £660 ordered to pay costs of £206.20, with a £66 victim surcharge, for the offence last October.
Councillor Frank Finlay, cabinet member for environment and health, said: "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.
"The inconsiderate minority who do not keep their dogs on the lead are being very disrespectful to those who tend the graves or just want some peace and time to reflect with a lost loved one."
Since 2010 it has been an offence not to keep your dog on a lead at cemeteries in Stafford borough.
Dogs are excluded from all children's equipped play areas, whether enclosed or unenclosed, bowling greens, tennis courts, skate parks and paddling pools.
All dogs must also be kept on a lead at Victoria Park and Rowley Park in Stafford, Stonefield Park in Stone as well as all cemeteries, including church yards run by the council.
It comes after Stafford Borough Council teamed up with the Baswich Community Group to encourage all dog-owners to clear up after their pets.
Posters will be put up, leaflets handed out, and council staff will be talking to dog walkers as part of the six-month campaign which got underway this week.
A monthly count of dog fouling incidents will be recorded to evaluate the campaign's impact.
Previous campaigns have proved successful in the villages of Weston, Fulford and Gnosall with all reporting a significant reduction in dog mess.
The council has already issued fines this year as part of a long-running zero-tolerance approach to people not cleaning up after their pets.
For more information on dog control orders visit www.staffordbc.gov.uk/dog-control-orders.