A FOOTBALL team is kicking off over dog mess left on pitches which could be putting the health of children at risk.

Andy Harris, chairman of Weymouth Cougars Football Club, says the behaviour of some dog owners around football pitches is careless and gives the rest of them a bad name.

The Cougars are responsible for looking after the nine football pitches at The Marsh playing fields in Weymouth.

Mr Harris said he spends many hours picking up dog poo left on the pitches, and has taken pictures of the evidence.

He said: " It speak volumes about the careless, almost reckless behaviour being shown by some at The Marsh.

"Cougars are determined to keep the pitches open for all to use but need the support of the local community to achieve this.

"Dog dirt can cause blindness in children so it is not only disgusting but also dangerous. It has been suggested that we fence off the area to prevent this happening but this would restrict the access for hundreds of local residents who enjoy this area for sport and recreation with their families.

"The council has acknowledged that there is a problem at The Marsh and has agreed to step up the number of patrols by the dog wardens and to impose the maximum fines allowable under the town’s bylaws."

Mr Harris added: "We are not suggesting that dogs shouldn’t exercise at The Marsh, many of our members are dog owners, and accept that the vast majority are responsible owners, but a small minority are causing a huge problem.

"Please help us to make this area safe for our children. Only by the local community acting together can we eradicate this problem. Report those who continue to flout the law and give dog owners a bad name."

Tara Williams, Parks and Open Spaces Manager at Weymouth Town Council, said: "There are many responsible dog owners but, unfortunately, the few who flout the dog bylaws are clearly not taking into consideration other park users, many of whom are children.

"Weymouth Cougars Football Club works hard to provide pitches at The Marsh for children to enjoy and they shouldn’t have to pick up dog mess to enable young football players to use the site without running the risk of encountering dog mess, which is potentially harmful to them.

"I am pleased to learn that patrols are being stepped up and I hope that by raising awareness about the danger of dog faeces that it will remind people of the importance of picking up after their dog."