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LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 19-Feb-15 15:34:17

Dog poo wars

Villem Saks contemplates the humble dog poo. Is it as much of a problem as it seems? Or are village dog poo <fanatics> prowlers fixing their beady eyes on the wrong problem? Villem considers...

Villem Saks

Dog poo wars

Posted on: Thu 19-Feb-15 15:34:17


Lead photo

Villem's late canine companion, Rocky.

Poor old dogs, they get a bum deal. Horses produce manure and cats do their business, yet dogs 'foul' or produce 'mess'. Granted, getting the stuff on your shoes and walking it across a clean carpet isn’t fun, but that’s about as bad as it gets.

So why does it divide communities and why do some of us recoil in horror at the stuff? Let's start by choosing the right word for it. I'm sticking with turd. Sure it's a little coarse but it has impeccable heritage in that it comes from the Old Norse tordyfill meaning dung beetle. I reckon humans are repelled by dog turds because deep down, psychologically, they remind us of our own. There's no research to quote but maybe it's an evolutionary thing which maintains our perceived superiority over lesser mammals. The notion that our waste products look and often smell the same as dogs is an affront and might be upsetting for many people.
There is the big issue of kids going blind from Toxocariasis which is caused by roundworms in dog turds. If children eat them then there could be a risk of infection. However, according to the NHS there have only been 30 cases in England and Wales between 2000 and 2010. Cases that involve blindness are rare.

In many villages and towns there are ongoing crusades to wipe out dog turds from public places with the use of ruthless highly-trained Council Response Against Poo operatives who will stalk and fine anyone seen committing a turd offence.

Recent anti dog turd signage also blames domestic dogs as a major cause of the apocalyptic sounding Neosporosis which causes cattle to abort. However, according to many vets the science is not conclusive. Some maintain that it is mainly farm dogs which carry the cysts that infect cattle. And yet these diseases are touted as major health risks. In many villages and towns there are ongoing crusades to wipe out dog turds from public places with the use of ruthless highly-trained Council Response Against Poo operatives who will stalk and fine anyone seen committing a turd offence. They will liaise with curtain-twitching residents who, on orders from many local parish and town councils, will be expected to report their neighbours giving a description of the poor mutt and details of the errant deposition.

There is some rationale for implementing a program of information and enforcement in urban areas but is it a problem in the village environment? There's no doubt there are those who let their dogs deposit anywhere including the weird people who pick up nicely in a plastic bag and then toss it into a hedge where it hangs forlornly; presumably waiting for the Dog Turd Collection team from the local authority.

It’s really a matter of common sense. Pick up where it is plainly apparent that someone could step in it. Bagging a turd on a wind-swept hill or farmer's field seems like overkill. An agile flick of the boot which sends the offending lump into a hedge or stream is not going to cause an outbreak of bubonic plague.

The maximum fixed penalty for failing to pick up a dog turd is £1,000. In the UK each year about 2,400 children are killed or seriously injured on the road. Many of these accidents are caused by excessive speed. The maximum fine for speeding is also £1,000. There are speed gun patrols in some villages but when it comes to installing bumps or flashing signs, the Parish council bleats on about the cost and how it will impinge upon character of the village. Dog turds, it seems, are more of a problem.

Villem Saks is the author of How to survive the English Village: a guide for retirees, returning expats and folk not from these parts, available from Amazon.

By Villem Saks

Twitter: @Gransnet

Riverwalk Thu 19-Feb-15 16:29:16

If I were Mayor of London I would make it a law that dogs should be on a lead when in the park and only allowed to sh*t on the gravelly paths. There would be a large fenced-off area for them to have a run around.

It's crazy that dogs are allowed to roam and do their business anywhere e.g. in the flower beds and on the lawns where young children toddle and sit.

Even if the owner clears up after the dog, there must still be some residue left on the grass.

Eloethan Thu 19-Feb-15 16:35:45

I tend to agree with Villem Saks.

I always clear up after our dog if he goes on pavements, grassy footpaths and grassed areas on which people are likely to walk because it is very unpleasant to have to clean dog muck off shoes. In woods and on rough, uncultivated land I don't usually bother.

I do think there is a certain amount of hysteria about the subject and, as the writer points out, it seems ridiculous that a dog owner can theoretically be fined £1,000, which is also the maximum fine for speeding - I think, a far more serious offence.

When I take our dog for a walk in the morning, as well as taking poo bags with me I take a carrier bag to pick up the cigarette packets, lager cans and plastic bottles that people discard on the flowerbeds at the end of our road. I think this general litter is in many ways a much bigger problem because at least dog mess is eventually absorbed into the soil.

janeainsworth Thu 19-Feb-15 16:40:03

Dog poo doesn't smell at all like human poo.
Personally I find it worse than the smell of vomit, and it's one of the reasons I wouldn't have a dog.
The last paragraph about the comparison between fines for speeding and fines for failing to pick up dog mess is irrelevant, and the reference to the cost of traffic calming measures a non-sequitur. What local parish councils choose to spend their residents' money on is nothing to do with the thoughtlessness of people who don't clean up after their dogs.

Stansgran Thu 19-Feb-15 16:54:48

I would double the fine for people who clear up the mess and then hang it from a convenient tree "to pick up on the way back"knowing full well that they will not return that way. And I would double again for this happening on National Trust land as the dog owners seem to like the Christmas tree vibe of trees festooned with coloured bags of poo left for the volunteers to gather. Or throw them out of reach but still in view. Ugh!

Tegan Thu 19-Feb-15 16:56:27

I, too, do the same Eloethan but didn't realise I could be fined for it.If I'm in a field or walking down our local lane I will shovel it under a hedge or into a ditch etc and would probably do the same if I was walking in a wood.Anywhere else and it's bagged and binned. What I don't understand is people using dog poo bags and then leaving the bags in the hedgerow confused. I can't see a problem with the fine being £1,000 though, as it needs to be high to deter people. I used to be our village litter picker for many years and the dog poo problem did decrease, so can only assume the threat of being fined worked. Even as a dog owner and lover I find dog poo absolutely vile.

Wheniwasyourage Thu 19-Feb-15 16:57:31

Dogs are carnivores and so their poo is no use for gardens, even if it is eventually absorbed into the soil. You never see people selling dog poo for gardens in the way that they sell horse manure, do you? Horses, cows, rabbits and sheep are vegetarians and even if you step in their poo (not a pleasant experience, of course) you don't get the foul smell and you can wipe it off into the flower bed or the compost heap and it will do some good. I agree with janeainsworth that the problem of dog poo (in my case the picking up of warm heaps rather than the smell alone) is enough to stop me wanting to have a dog. It's nothing like changing a dirty nappy, no matter what some dog lovers say.

rosequartz Thu 19-Feb-15 17:05:23

It is an ongoing issue in the village as dog owners take their dogs on to the children's play park to defecate and do not clear it up. There is no fence and no notices. We were told by the Council that even if notices were put there the type of people who took their dogs on to the play area would be the type of people who would ignore the notices.

It is the risk of toxicara canis that worries me as well as the revolting mess and smell.

I am not anti-dog - having been a dog owner in the past - but anti the owners who have no social conscience.

Tegan Thu 19-Feb-15 17:10:00

There should be a notice rose sad. To my shame I have to admit that, as a new dog owner living I did exercise my dog on the field where children played. This was a long time ago and I was very naive; a notice would have educated me.

rosequartz Thu 19-Feb-15 17:15:13

Tegan there will be a notice if we have our way. Unfortunately the wheels of LG grind very slowly!

Villem Saks your dog Rocky looks very sweet and very much like one of our late dogs. Unfortunately, I don't suppose his faeces smells as sweet, so a campaign to bag it and dispose of it appropriately would be more in order imo.

I didn't realise there was a £1,000 fine so perhaps our local culprit should be informed of that hmm

Good post, janea Thu 19-Feb-15 16:40:03

Mishap Thu 19-Feb-15 17:18:46

Dog shit smells foul because they eat mainly meat; and this also accounts for its superglue-like consistency.

In the wild they would poo away happily and it would all dry up and go back to nature. The problem is that we have so many domesticated dogs that live in areas where it builds up on concrete pavements etc. Too many dogs in the wrong place.

Children are at risk from toxicara - I know a child who lost her sight in one eye from this; then lost the other eye in a conker accident. The children do not have to eat the poo; they just have to put their fingers in their mouths (as toddlers do) after touching grass where a dog has been relieving itself or scudding its bottom along.

I think that dog excrement in parks is quite revolting and a menace to children.

I am no more enamoured of cat poo I have to say!

The argument that good owners do not allow their dogs to foul inappropriately gets us nowhere as not all owners are good owners sadly. We are still left with crappy streets and parks.

Brendawymms Thu 19-Feb-15 18:16:45

Dogs diet is lower in meat than cats.
If everyone used poo bags properly and do not let their animal out of sight, so they know any poo activity, things would be better.
What annoys me is people putting their pets poo in bags and then leave the bags along the verge.
We are lucky here being very rural with a lot of land inhabited by animals it's not really a problem. The foxes are also very fond of dog poo and do a good job of cleaning up!

Iam64 Thu 19-Feb-15 18:25:41

I have always shared my life with dogs. I have two currently,plus a puppy I'm looking after for a week. I pick up and never let my dogs off lead near children's play areas. Our local park is becoming a danger zone because a number of so called 'professional dog walkers' are using it. Never seen one of them with a pooh bag and recently one young woman had 11 dogs off lead on the football pitch. No handler can control 11 dogs in that environment, especially dogs she may not know very well. One man drives to the gate with 5 dogs bouncing around in his car, opens the door and let's them run. When I asked him to control them, because my young dog is nervous on lead with unknown dogs surrounding him, he swore at me and told me my dog was the problem then! I've spoken to the dog warden and local police, as have many other regular dog walkers. The response - a new pick up after your dog sign at the point the man lets his dogs run. I'd hate not to be able to let my dogs run free at appropriate places, their recall is good, they mix well with dogs they know. I wouldn't want them any where near 5 or worse, 11 dogs running together. There have been a number of stories in the press recently about dogs being lost by professional dog walkers. A major problem is that the dogs being walked by these people don't know each other - it's a disaster waiting to happen. I'm very cautious about using the park, which is huge, with lots of open space, streams, woodland and so perfect for dogs at times when there are no young children around.

Anya Thu 19-Feb-15 19:33:32

Watching one of the hunts execising their 50-strong pack by taking them for a walk in the countryside. Not a poo bag in sight. Yuk!

GrannyGear Thu 19-Feb-15 20:54:58

Re the size of fines for different offences:
I know lots of people who have been fined for speeding; I can't think of one who has been caught, let alone punished, for allowing a dog to foul a public area.

Granoveve Thu 19-Feb-15 21:32:11

I won't have a dog again because of the need to pick up the poo, but I do agree it should be removed. My neighbour always sends his dog for a run in the garden before taking it out for a walk so he can clear it up with a shovel and not have to carry it round. He reckons that works, but I didn't know dogs could be toilet trained like that.

absent Thu 19-Feb-15 22:03:06

I always cleared up poo from my dog wherever the dear boy chose to place it. In fact, for about six months after he died I still habitually shoved a heap of poo bags into my pocket whenever I left the house.

When our children were young my friends and I all had what we referred to as the "shit kit" – a bucket, disinfectant, brushes, etc. – because of the need to clean the wheels of buggies, scooters, trainer bikes and so on, as well as Wellington boots and the soles of shoes pretty much whenever the children went out.

What happened to the bins for dog poo that used to be located in parks and other public places?

Mishap Thu 19-Feb-15 22:08:01

Our village has an annual fete with dog show. I leave you to imagine the state of the green. My DDs do not like to go now as they have to keep the children under such close supervision, and it becomes almost impossible to keep the pushchair wheels out of the muck. It used to be a great family event before it included the dog show - what a shame.

pompa Thu 19-Feb-15 22:14:45

Why do we need poo bins in public places, just take it home and dispose of it. Why should someone else have to collect owners dog poo, what an awful job. Also why on earth do some dog owners collect the poo in bags then throw it up trees and into bushes. Our local woods are now a no go area unless you are prepared to scrap poo off your boots.

absent Thu 19-Feb-15 22:18:40

Poo bins in public places might reduce the number of plastic bags of dog faeces dangling from trees and shrubs.

Anya Thu 19-Feb-15 22:25:51

I'm glad I don't live near you Mishap & Pompa. We must have a more responsible set of dog owners here as I never see dog poo on the streets any more and very, very rarely in our parks and public places.

I put that down to three things. Firstly we have a very visible Dog Warden. She's often to seen in her Hi-Viz jacket with Dog Warden on it and patrols regularly. Secondly if you are caught it's up to a £1,000 fine and there are notices displayed prominently. Finally, and possibly, most important, it is not socially acceptable and we, of the dog walking community, have been known to say to less responsible owners 'I hope you're going to pick that up'.

OK. You might get a mouthful of abuse from the odd person, but who cares about that?

Anya Thu 19-Feb-15 22:26:28

PS We also have lots of Poo Bins.

Anya Thu 19-Feb-15 22:28:23

Thinking on, I now ask offenders if they needs one of my poo bags.

NfkDumpling Thu 19-Feb-15 22:45:19

Pompa people hang poo bags on hedges to prove a point - that a bin is needed. Taking home poo bags in the back of the car just isn't nice, especially if it's next to the picnic basket or the shopping or the baby.

I live on a dog walking route but think I'm quite fortunate. No dog poo - and very little litter either because there are bins along the route.

I do feel for elderly and infirm people who love and need their doggy companions but are physically unable to pick up after them. My mother could never take her dog for a walk, something she missed terribly.

durhamjen Fri 20-Feb-15 01:19:42

Lots of poo bins near where I live, and there are at least ten people fined a month for dog fouling in the county.