#Drains and #DogMess – the lot of a local Councillor?

People would probably take more responsibility
For the jobs done by their pets
If they themselves were penalised
With humane injections
Administered by vets

From Bad Jobs (A Meditation on urban pet droppings and the nature/nuture question) by Matt Harvey

I was just about to make my pitch to Exeter Labour Party when someone tried to define the lot of a local councillor…drains and dog mess, that’s you life isn’t it?

Despite appearing somewhat cynical, sometimes it does feel like that!

Then in the final days leading up to the General Election, I was speaking to a resident who wanted to speak to me about dog fouling – although when I used that phrase, he told me to be less polite and call it what it was. So for the rest of the conversation he used dog shite and I used dog shit.

Those two conversations came to mind as I listened to Peter Allen on 5 Live Daily on my way to Cowick this morning.

He was discussing a recent Freedom of Information request by 5 Live Daily (reported here in today’s Daily Telegraph] that showed the number of people in England and Wales fined for failing to pick up their dog’s mess is down by almost 20% on the previous year. The FoI also indicated that that there has been a downward trend in the number of Fixed Penalty Notices issued for dog fouling over the past four years. 

New eco-graffiti on Newman Road
New eco-graffiti on Newman Road

 

The vast majority of dog owners are socially responsible but unfortunately a selfish few think it’s ok to not clean up after their pet.

Dog shit/shite/mess/fouling not only spoils our streets – it’s also a health hazard and especially to young children (see more on Toxocara]

One of the things Exeter City Council has been experimenting with is environmentally friendly graffiti to encourage dog owners to pick up after their pets.

ECC has been ‘tagging’ pavements with a special chalk-based paint which washes away in the rain and leaves no residue.

Using stencils (pictured above) showing a dog above the message ‘Clean it Up! – £1,000 fine‘, ECC hopes the warning of the £1,000 fine for leaving dogs mess in public areas will help engender social responsibility among dog walkers.

That’s what ECC is doing; Peter Allen on 5 Live Daily was discussing what other local authorities are doing.

Daventry City Council are consulting on a plan to use a Public Space Protection Order to give its  Enforcement Officers enhanced powers to deal with dog owners who fail to properly control their pets in public open spaces across the district.

The proposed new powers would require dog walkers to carry a poop bag or other means for clearing up after their pet. If introduced, it would mean Council Enforcement Officers could ask dog owners to produce the means by which they intend to clean up after their pet, with those unable to do so facing a fine of up to £100 and potentially prosecution.

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham [ or should that be Barking and DOGenham?] is looking at analysing the dog mess for DNA.

The Council is working piloting a pioneering programme of dog DNA tests to catch owners who do not clear up after their pets’ fouling as it currently spends over £2 million each year clearing up dog mess. a

Taking advantage of new legislation that means from April 2016 every single dog in England must be microchipped, LBBD  are suggesting that dogs should be swabbed for DNA at the same time.

If an owner fails to pick up the mess after their dog, a quick test will be taken from the offending faeces which can be traced back to a registered dog with 99.9 per cent accuracy, according to the council.

ECC Clean It Up sticker for use of litter bins
ECC Clean It Up sticker for use of litter bins

Further reading:
Atenstaedt, R.L. and Jones, S. (2011) Interventions to prevent dog fouling: a systematic review of evidence, Public Health, Vol. 125, No. 2.

Christopher N. Lowe* and Karl S. Williams (2014) Environmental and social impacts of domestic dog waste in the UK: investigating barriers to behavioural change in dog walkers Int. J. Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 13, No. 4, 2014

BBC (2013) Eight radical solutions to the problem of dog mess [online]

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