Dealing with dog mess - Some novel approaches

Dealing with dog mess - Some novel approaches

Health & Safety

Every responsible dog owner knows that cleaning up after their dog when in any public place is simply a necessary, if rather distasteful part of pet ownership! However, while few people would admit to it, not every dog owner is as conscientious as they should be about cleaning up after their dogs, and most dog owners will come across an abandoned pile of poop (or several of them) at some point every day when out on their walks.

Dog waste is harmful to the health of both people and the land that it pollutes, as well as posing an eyesore, and potentially causing further mess, unpleasantness and inconvenience if stepped in or tracked about, particularly if it is unwittingly walked back into the home.

Despite the various fines that can be charged for leaving dog mess lying around and the efforts of various local councils to address the problems in their own areas, still, some regions seem to suffer from a particularly high percentage of irresponsible dog owners leaving their mess behind, and have had to take a lateral thinking approach to tackling it.

Here are some of the more unusual methods of dealing with the dog mess issue that councils and other organisations have invoked, plus a few novel suggestions for how you can help and make the problem of dog poop less of an issue in your local area.

Drawing attention to the problem

One of the issues that accompanies encouraging reticent owners to clean up after their dogs is the fact that dog mess blends into the background on pavements and areas of soil, making it easier for the irresponsible owner to simply walk away and pretend that they haven’t seen the mess their dog has left behind.

In order to counteract this effect and highlight-literally- the problem of abandoned dog mess, some organisations at both a local and national level have sought to make the actual presence of abandoned dog pooh itself more noticeable, by a range of novel methods.

West Dunbartonshire council have taken a literal approach here, by arming its local cleanup workers and the people who are tasked with dealing with abandoned dog mess with a tin of bright pink spray paint, to tag the abandoned piles of poop in a highly visible colour scheme. This achieved the result of both alerting the unwitting passer by to avoid the mess, and shaming irresponsible owners into picking up after their dogs in the future.

The Canal and River Trust, the public charity responsible for Britain’s 2,000 miles of canals and inland waterways, is also responsible for maintaining and managing the towpath and bankside areas that run alongside of canals and rivers. These rural walkways are often popular with dog walkers, and many dog owners up and down the country enjoy towpath walks with their dogs as part of their daily routine.

As well as the issue of dog mess itself, one of the additional and arguably even more annoying problems that plague the responsible walker are the actions of some other dog owners, who religiously and conscientiously pick up and bag their dog pooh... but then leave the non-biodegradable plastic bags full of mess hanging from the nearest tree!

The Canal and River Trust highlighted this problem along the towpath of the Todmorden area of West Yorkshire, where they created a display of hundreds of purple and lilac bags of dog mess hanging from a towpath-side tree.

Other novel approaches to the problem at a local and regional level have included tagging piles of poop with placards and signs with messages such as “An irresponsible dog owner left this here” or “mind the dog crap!” again, in order to highlight the problem and prompt reticent owners into taking responsibility for their dog’s outputs!

Ways that dog owners can help

Every responsible dog owner of course always picks up after their own dog- and disposes of their dog’s poop in the appropriate dog waste bin, or in their own bins at home. Leading by example in this way is one of the best ways to encourage other dog owners to do the same, as a dog owner that watches you picking up after your dog is much less likely to think that it is ok to leave their own dog’s waste behind.

  • If an area is clean and free of dog mess, people are much less likely to think that it is ok to allow their own dog to contribute to the problem. Mess begets mess; and in areas where there is a lot of dog mess left lying around, people who are otherwise responsible and usually pick up after their own dogs in other situations are exponentially more likely to think that it doesn’t matter, and neglect to clear up their own dog’s poop.
  • Something else that you can do is always to carry spare pooh bags with you, an offer them to other pet owners if they appear to be on the verge of abandoning their dog’s poop or don’t have a bag to hand.
  • One of the best ways that you can help to improve the environment in your local area is by helping with the cleanup process itself. No dog owner should have to be tasked with cleaning up after another owner’s dog, and it is of course unpalatable to do so.

But if every time you walk your dog, you pick up just one pile of poop that has been left by a previous walker and dispose of this with your own dog’s waste, you can do your bit on an ongoing basis to help to keeping your local area clean, and encourage other dog owners to do the same.

  • Don’t forget that leaving dog mess behind is actually illegal, and dog owners can be prosecuted and fined for doing so. If you spot somebody leaving dog mess behind when out on a walk, particularly if they do this regularly, report them to the local council, who should take steps to independently identify the culprit and tackle the issue with them directly.
  • Finally, don’t forget that dog mess can carry parasites and diseases such as toxicariasis, and always wash your hands thoroughly after dealing with dog mess; even if you do not physically touch it with your bare hands.

Happy poop scooping!



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