AN ELDERLY dog owner has been ordered to pay nearly £900 after failing to clear up after his pets.

The East Dorset District Council prosecution comes following a rise in nuisance dog fouling complaints in Bournemouth and Poole.

Pensioner Dennis Hunt was fined £700 for two dog fouling offences. Magistrates also ordered him to pay £192.50 court costs.

Mr Hunt, from St Leonards Way, St Leonards, was summonsed following several complaints that he had failed to clean up after his four dogs, an East Dorset District Council spokesman said.

Cllr John Little, the council’s health and housing chief, said: “This sends out a clear message that we do not tolerate people who fail to take responsibility for their dogs’ mess.”

A council spokesman said officers had seen Mr Hunt’s dogs running from his home and fouling the verges.

They had increased patrols in the area after writing to Mr Hunt when attempts to discuss the matter had failed, he said. The case was heard in his absence.

There was no reply when a Daily Echo reporter tried to contact Mr Hunt at his home.

According to a local resident gates had been installed at one property to keep the dogs out. Another householder claimed the animals often ran into the road.

In Bournemouth, there have been 74 fouling complaints in just three months.

Stuart Best from the council’s street services team said: “Dog owners are just not cleaning up after their pets and the rate of complaints has significantly increased this winter.

“It is not fair that other people have to put up with unhygienic mess soiling their local area and street cleansing teams should not be tasked with cleaning it up either.”

In Poole there were 196 complaints about dog fouling last year, and 224 so far in 2009/2010, with a projected estimate for the entire year of 240.

Cllr Don Collier, cabinet member for the environment, said “there is a small number of persistently irresponsible owners who ignore this message”.

He said enforcement officers carried out regular patrols, targeted known hotspots and would issue fines whenever they witness an offence.