Concerned parents have launched a petition to clean up Horsham Park of dog mess out of fears that contact with kids could lead to blindness or even amputation.
Daryn Benn, 49, and his wife Dionne, 44, are campaigning for a park free of excrement and a fenced-off zone for dogs to do their business.
The move was prompted by Mr Benn, who as a manager for the under 11s Horsham Sparrows Football Club, is forced to sweep the pitch and clear it of dog muck before each game.
But Mrs Benn says even after the clean up there is still some on the pitch which poses a danger to the young players.
“If it goes near the eyes it could blind a kid,” she told the County Times. “And if it gets into a wound it can cause septicaemia which could result in having a leg cut off.”
Mr Benn said: “As a parent it’s a concern but as a football manager my first priority is the safety of the children.
“There needs to be a dog area in the park. Owners can let their dogs off in a fenced-off area where they can do their business.”
He added: “We’re doing this to save an incident from happening. Something needs to be done.”
The petition received around 80 signatures when it was launched on Saturday (September 28).
Even dog owners were supporting the idea of a sectioned-off area for their pets, the football manager claims.
But Horsham District Council said ‘it would be reluctant to support partitioning Horsham Park by fencing it into dog and non-dog areas as the aim is to encourage access for all users’.
Instead, the local authority will soon be carrying out a ‘high profile’ poster campaign on several key sites across the district highlighting dog fouling issues.
A spokeswoman said: “Horsham District Council is always concerned to hear of incidents and issues which spoil visitors’ enjoyment of Horsham Park.
“The council provides ten dog bins in strategic locations around the park, which the majority of the park’s visitors use responsibly (the council provides 320 bins across the whole district).
“Dog excrement is also removed by council staff whenever possible but this is not a sustainable solution to the problem.”
She added: “The council’s street wardens have a particular role in addressing dog fouling issues and have the powers to take enforcement action, if necessary, but with the emphasis on educating those who can be irresponsible.”