Let me set the scene. Dr. Dave is jogging down the street. He has nice form and rhythm as he listens to Lady Gaga [a scandalous lie - ed] on his Ipod. Suddenly he feels the squelch, stops and raises his foot with dread to look at the bottom of his shoe.
We all know what follows. Whether it’s finding a rock with a nice abrasive surface, or a stick to pick out the grooves of your shoe, the awful dog poop cleaning process must begin.
I suspect this is a case of a small group of people not meeting their responsibilities as dog owners. We are all fed up with seeing neglected piles of poo in the dog park or on the street. So much so, there is now a Facebook page, ‘Not Stepping in Dog Poop’ and a ‘Top 10 Worst Shoes If You Step in Dog Poop’ website dedicated to the issue.
Some much needed help may finally be at hand. The Animal Advisory Committee of Woollahra Council is trying to help the problem by looking into supplying free dog poo bags at dog parks in the area. This would be a welcome measure, but surely it is the responsibility of the pet owner to purchase and properly use poo bags? Buying poop bags doesn’t strike us as being a terribly challenging task, so the question is will free poo bags actually have an impact on the situation? Or will the people who currently waive their responsibility simply ignore them?
There are a second group of offenders. Those individuals who do at least go to the lengths of picking up their dog’s poo only to fling the poo bag into the nearest bush! It would seem that these people want to be seen to be doing the right thing but fall at the last hurdle. This could also reflect a lack of bins in which to deposit the used waste bags as well.
Expensive and Risky
The Companion Animals Act is an important piece of legislation to protect pets, pet owners and the community. Failure to remove dog faeces from a public place is an offence and the fine is $275. That’s an expensive pile of poop! Beyond the financial risk, there is a very real public health risk as dogs carry worms that can infect people. Typically children are affected and the worms can cause blindness, asthma and even seizures.
Peer Pressure on Poopers
Research in the UK suggests that peer pressure might be the answer. The human bond of owners at the dog park can be quite strong. There’s often the ‘morning group’, ‘afternoon group’ and ‘evening group’ of regulars who meet everyday, not just to let their dogs exercise, but to catch up with each other. This even goes further at my local dog park where we have a Christmas party, including treats for both humans and dogs alike. The research suggests that if we voice the group mentality of responsible pet ownership and that the members of a particular park will only tolerate appropriate poo removal methods, others at the park are likely to follow suit.
So next time you’re at the park, have a chat to your fellow dog owners about this issue and continue to contact the Council about how you feel we can all improve this dirty issue.
Serial offenders can also be reported to the council and you can encourage council rangers to increase patrols in problem areas.
And if all else fails, at least remember a few words of wisdom from The Top 10 Worst Shoes If You Step In Dog Poop – The number one winner was the ‘Aquasocks’ (pictured right). We strongly suggest you avoid!
Dr. Liz Thrift