THE number of dog owners fined for failing to pick up after their pets has more than doubled in the last year.

A total of 637 fixed penalty notices were issued in 12 months – up from around 250 in previous years and equivalent to more than 50 every month.

The worst area was the Canal ward which includes Possil-park, Ruchill and Milton, with 56 notices issued, followed by the North East ward, including Ruchazie, Garthamlock and Provanmill, with 38.

The area with the lowest number of notices issued was Pollokshields, with three, followed by Hillhead with four.

The rise is down to a Clean Glasgow anti-dog fouling campaign designed to force irresponsible dog owners to clean up their act.

Tens of thousands of tenants from 85 social landlords backed the crackdown which sees enforcement officers patrol local neighbourhoods on the look out for dirty dog owners.

As reported in the Evening Times in September last year, the blitz, which started on August 1, last year, caught more than 50 people within a month.

The city's network of public CCTV cameras is being used to catch dog owners who refuse to bag it and bin it.

Latest figures show a total of 11,950 warning letters have also been sent to streets of closes where suspects live.

The initiative, which is run by the city council and Glasgow Community and Safety Services, has prompted a 68% increase – to 2311 – in calls to the Clean Glasgow hotline by people reporting culprits or identifying sites where there is a particular problem.

The crackdown is now stepping up with enforcement officers visiting neighbourhoods unannounced.

A total of 21 extra staff were taken on to enforce the city wide campaign.

As well as keeping an eye out for offending owners, officers also take statements from witnesses and work to trace irresponsible owners.

As reported in the Evening Times in November last year, one tactic uses mugshots of dogs, taken for housing association records, to match up cases where the owners cannot be identified.

Pictures of the dogs are held by some housing associations, along with other details about the animal, to allow housing officers to identify owners of pets in the event of antisocial behaviour such as continual barking, dog fouling or aggression towards other animals or humans.

Dog owners who don't clean up after their pet are the biggest irritation for city residents and thousands of people have already backed the clampdown.

In extreme cases, owners who repeatedly refuse to clean up after their pet could have their dogs taken from them by the courts.

Councillor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "The initial part of the campaign was as much about education as enforcement.

"By telling people we were coming to their neighbourhood we aimed to change habits by making it clear that irresp-onsible behaviour would not be tolerated.

"We are extremely pleased with the initial results and thrilled by the huge level of support from the general public who have been phoning in to report those flouting the law.

"There is also anecdotal evidence that those who have been fined have changed their ways and now pick up after their pets.

"However, anyone who thought they could revert to their filthy ways when we left their area can now think again.

"The crackdown continues and no one can afford to risk receiving a fine."

Offenders face a £40 fine rising to £60 if not paid within 28 days.

Legal action can be taken against people who refuse to pay the £60 fine.

They face being reported to the procurator fiscal and could be fined up to £500.

It is also an offence for a dog owner to refuse to give their name and address and they could also be fined up to £500 for that.

Courts also have the power to decide whether an individual is an appropriate person to have a dog and can insist the animal may have to be removed and rehomed.

GLASGOW Housing Association, which has more than 41,000 tenants, backs the campaign along with the majority of social landlords in Glasgow.

Jacqueline Norwood, GHA's assistant director of neigh-bourhood services, said: "Dog-fouling is a major concern for our tenants.

"That's why we are working closely with our partners at Glasgow City Council to encourage people to dispose of dog mess responsibly and make sure we have a cleaner, safer environment for everyone."

To report dirty dog owners in your community, call Clean Glasgow on 0800 027 7027