Collin Smith 1

Rhondda Cynon Taf resident Collin Smith is supporting the Council’s Sort **IT Out! campaign to tackle irresponsible dog owners – 38 years after his leg was amputated due to an infection from dog mess on a rugby field.

Collin, originally from Tonyrefail and now living in Miskin, Pontyclun, was 15 years old in November 1979, when he played in a school rugby match in Rhondda. During the game, he suffered compound fractures to his leg, which became a life-changing injury due to an infection from dog mess on the pitch.

The incident meant Collin, who was the captain of his youth side and capped by Wales at the under-15s age group, would never play rugby again.

Now aged 53, Collin is supporting Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Sort **IT Out! campaign, which is promoting  the new dog fouling rules coming into force from October 1, 2017, through a Public Spaces Protection Order.

It will mean dog owners MUST carry suitable means to pick up dog mess, while dogs will be banned from ALL schools, play areas and marked sports pitches maintained by the Council. MORE enforcement officers will be out and about, and dog owners MUST put their dog on a lead if requested by officers. Irresponsible dog owners could face a £100 fine under the new rules.

Recalling the events at his final match in 1979, Collin said: “I can remember that it was just an ordinary rugby match – though it was a bad, rainy day. It was Tonyrefail Comp against Ferndale Comp, played in Maerdy.

“I had the compound fracture, and the fall led to my bones entering the mud. In hospital, my leg was set like any other routine fracture, but within 24 hours an infection had set. I had emergency surgery and the bottom part of my leg was amputated.

“The toxicology report showed the infection was due to animal faeces, and it was later diagnosed as dog excrement, which had been on the playing field.”

Collin, a dog owner himself to cocker spaniel Cullen Baloo, says he is excited to be involved in the Council’s hard-hitting Sort **IT Out! campaign – and says the zero-tolerance new rules for irresponsible dog owners will be of benefit to wider communities within the County Borough.    

“I was really keen to get involved,” he added. “Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s campaign is one with real value that a lot of people can get behind. The new rule about banning dogs from marked sports pitches is obviously close to my heart – but for me it’s a much wider issue than that alone.

“Dog owners should carry poo bags with them – I do as a dog owner and would expect others to. It should be compulsory, and I support the new rules being put in place for this. If dog owners don’t even carry bags when walking their dogs, I think they are totally out of order as members of the community.

“For play areas, normally they are cordoned off anyway, and I think it is right to enforce a ban on dogs within these areas too, where children are playing.

“I’m really happy to support this campaign. It is fantastic that the Council is clamping down on irresponsible dog owners.

“I know lots of people who are responsible dog owners, and one or two who I know are not. It is the minority that mess it up for everyone else, and it is very positive that measures are being put in place by the Council to sort it out.”

Councillor Ann Crimmings, Cabinet Member for Environment and Leisure, added: “We are pleased that Collin, who has been so personally affected by the issue of dog fouling, is supporting our Sort **it Out! campaign.

“Not cleaning up after your dog is not only disgusting and unsightly but, as demonstrated by Collin’s story, it can also have serious health consequences.

“I hope the message is sinking in that the Council will not tolerate dog fouling and will take action against the minority of dog owners who refuse to clean up after their dog.”

Throughout August and September, the Council has been hosting awareness events across the County Borough, for members of the public to find out more about the new rules from October 1.

Posted on Wednesday 20th September 2017

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