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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

durhamjen Fri 20-Feb-15 01:21:18

Nfk, isn't the dog next to the baby or the shopping or the picnic basket?

pompa Fri 20-Feb-15 08:32:58

I cannot believe that anyone capable of throwing poo bags into trees will be bothered with bins, they are horrible people with no concern for others.
Our streets and playing field are fine for the most part. It is our nearby woods that are polluted. I suspect that owners let their dogs off into the woods and do not watch them, or because there is no one watching them think that it won't be noticed among the leaf litter. I'm not sure, but I think that because the wood is privately owned it is not subject to the fouling laws. It is a large wood several hundred acres, plenty of space for dogs to wander far and wide without control. Paths across farmland also suffer the same fate, although to a lesser extent.

We only hear from responsible dog owners who clear up, I doubt that those that allow fouling would announce the fact.

janeainsworth Fri 20-Feb-15 08:44:13

I'm puzzled.
When this thread opened yesterday, it was signed off by someone called Michael Something.

Eloethan said she tended to agree with Michael Something.

Now it's been changed to Villem Saxshock and her post has been changed too.

I clicked on Villem Sax link at the top of the blog and he appears to have written a book, which judging by the Amazon precis, is critical of incomers to villages:
" England’s green and pleasant land is peppered with hundreds of impossibly cute villages. Before the coming of large towns and modern cities most people lived in these rural settlements. They had a symbiotic relationship with the surrounding countryside.
The bond between the village and the land has disappeared for good. Villagers are now invariably incomers, blow-ins and often retired"

Does anyone else have this recollection or am I going completely bonkers and should I make that appointment with the doctor??

Riverwalk Fri 20-Feb-15 09:19:43

Not just you Jane when I saw Elo's post I thought, who is she referring to?

I remembered the blog was originally by Michael something.

Be interesting to see if she originally said Michael shock

janeainsworth Fri 20-Feb-15 09:38:36

Thank goodness for that River!
Somebody slipped up at Gransnet Towers? grin

annodomini Fri 20-Feb-15 10:39:30

granoveve, I don't know if dogs can be toilet trained, but at one time my parents had a labrador who wouldn't 'go' anywhere but in her own garden and would tow my poor mother home at high speed if she felt the need. I suspect that this habit was inculcated when, as a puppy, she was praised for 'doing the business' in the garden rather than on the kitchen floor.

Eloethan Fri 20-Feb-15 10:43:44

I'm not going barmy then. I thought the name had been different when I posted about the article. How odd.

dustyangel Fri 20-Feb-15 12:32:55

I puppy walked for Guide Dogs For The Blind at one time and one if the things we had to do was train them to "get busy" in an specific place in the garden before we went for a walk.

rosequartz Fri 20-Feb-15 13:11:53

Now it's been changed to Villem Sax and her post has been changed too

Did Eloethan change it herself or was it changed for her? hmm

Is that allowed?

Elegran Fri 20-Feb-15 13:15:12

If he thinks that having stinking turds smeared all over your house as a result of someone stepping into dog's mess isn't a big deal, then he is probably not the one who cleans the carpets in his house. So what if the "psychological" reason behind our repulsion is because it is similar to our own omnivore turds - would it be OK to step in those and smear them around? They smell even worse than human ones, anyway, if that is possible.

In a perfect world, all dog owners would remove the evidence and take it home, or put it in a poo bin. If they did, there would not be as many CRAP patrols. More poo bins are needed, regularly emptied, and more awareness that putting it in a plastic bag is not the end of it - if that bag then lies around or hangs in a tree - eurgghhh! - it is as bad as leaving the turd lying on the path to decompose. Maybe worse, since it delays decomposition, and a wild animal eating it, bag and all, will have the bag stuck in their gut.

And what is wrong with wanting a village to be as clean to walk around in as a town? Are village carpets easier to keep clean than town ones? Village children immune to infections and parasites? Mud is inevitable, pet poo is not.

Penstemmon Fri 20-Feb-15 14:06:13

The issue of dog turds is not a major national or international issue but I do think it is a reflection of a community. If local dog owners think that they do not need to consider the needs of their neighbours & their families and allow their dogs to foul pavements, play areas and playing fields and everywhere is littered with turds or bags of turds it does not sound a pleasant place to be!
Dogs are not humans and whilst I know they can be much loved and be a comfort and help people (working / guide dogs etc) their needs should not be a priority above those of people. seems there are people who are able to train dogs to poop in a particular place. Dog owners' back gardens would be my choice! grin

Riverwalk Fri 20-Feb-15 14:27:38

Maybe GNHQ should explain the changes from Michael to Villem, particularly Eloethan's post.

Penstemmon Fri 20-Feb-15 14:45:41

Is Villem Saks an anagram for Mike Vassall or something like that??

Is he an incomer or an indigenous villager..I think we should be told! Sound a cynic whatever!

annodomini Fri 20-Feb-15 14:51:05

When the DC were small, they went down a slide which had evidently been used by a child with dog muck on his/her shoes. I had to put everything in the wash with disinfectant when I got them home, even the duffle coat that was 'dry clean only'; fortunately it emerged as good as new. That was the worst of quite a number of episodes in their childhood.

chocolatepudding Fri 20-Feb-15 15:14:29

My house is the last in a street in small market town in East Anglia. The road continues over the river to the next village and there are lots of good walks along the river and in the countryside. I own the field across the river and have the joy of a public footpath for 500 yards on my land. During the daytime a person with a dog will walk along this footpath at least once every hour and most people clear up their dog's mess. But this morning two offending piles were deposited opposite the house and we didn't see who it was.

We also own part of a large field (out of view of the house) which has a bridleway running for 200 yards on our land. Often there is an occasional pile left by a lazy dog owner. A friend commented last week that the bridleway was impossible to walk due to dog mess so we investigated. TWENTY THREE piles of poo left along the bridleway so we set to with spray paint to highlight the hazards and notice/flags on sticks adjacent to every pile. Next day TWO more piles had appeared. Some people are just too lazy to clear up after their dog - and there is a poo bin at the end of the bridleway!!

I really just despair at the rudeness/inconsiderate attitude of some dog owners. Please don't get me started on fishermen either!

pompa Fri 20-Feb-15 15:45:05

Oh go on, have a go at fishermen.
As a fisherman myself and a water bailiff for a while I find the littering habits of some to be appalling. This is one of the major problems facing clubs today. It amazed me the lengths anglers would go to hide rubbish, it would have been easier to take it home. No we don't want bins, that just means someone else has to take it home for them (like the poo bins). MY old club have now started employing people to clear up litter and are providing porta loos to try overcome the problem on their most popular waters.
Interestingly our fly fishing lake does not suffer this problem, the only litter we get is either wind blown or dropped by dog walkers (they don't always take their dog's poo), all the anglers will clear any litter they find, we take pride in our lake. I say our, because it is a private syndicate of only 25 and we all share in the upkeep.

Mishap Fri 20-Feb-15 16:15:08

I have nothing against fishing if the fish is eaten, after being swiftly killed - that is just part of the food chain.

I do however find it distasteful when the hook is pulled out of the mouth, the fish is trapped for a while in a net (until it can be shown off) and then thrown back in.

I do not think that fish are the most intelligent of beings, but it is hard to assume that they do not feel pain.

rosequartz Fri 20-Feb-15 16:36:29

ps I think he just wants to sell his book How to survive the English Village: a guide for retirees, returning expats and folk not from these parts
Try to fit in with village life would be my advice.

pompa Fri 20-Feb-15 16:37:36

Mishap, I agree with you in the main. However I do not think that fish feel pain as we do. I have come to this conclusion from personal experience having both caught the same trout in quick succession and having a trout take both of the flies on my cast. Had they felt pain from the hook, I doubt they would immediately take another fly within a few seconds or minutes. Also they only seem to know they are caught when they feel the restraint of a line, let it slack and they will quietly swim off. (this is how we try to release undersize fish, with barbless hooks they often fall out when the line is slack.)

I do openly admit that I enjoy fishing, trying to outwit that big old trout, but I also respect my prey. This is the deep rooted hunter instinct in me.

I prefer to eat wild game when possible, as, up to the moment it was shot, it had a wild natural life, better IMO that many farmed animals.

NfkDumpling Fri 20-Feb-15 17:30:07

Agree with you about wild meat Pompa. Despite TV programmes and other publicity the way a lot of animals are farmed is appalling - especially abroad. It should put poo into perspective but I bet most of the people who don't pick up also drop litter and don't care where their meat comes from as long as it's cheap. I fear many are lost causes.

What I can't understand is those who pick up and hang the poo bags in hedges when there's a bin nearby or they're within walking distance of home. I can understand not wanting to take poo into the car but we carry old supermarket bags for extra protection.

Is it just a pathetic attempt at rebellion?

Penstemmon Fri 20-Feb-15 17:35:27

If dog owners don't want turds in their cars why do they think I want it hanging on a tree at eye level or left on the ground when I go waking?? Self-centred immaturity to say the least!

Penstemmon Fri 20-Feb-15 17:35:50

Walking not waking!

cookiemonster66 Fri 20-Feb-15 17:36:16

Yet cats can poo everywhere all over neighbours gardens and owners do not have any responsibilty to clean it up! One rule for dogs owners and another for cats owners! If you have a pet, clean up its mess and dont expect others to have to do it!

rosequartz Fri 20-Feb-15 17:50:04

Cats have a 'right to roam' (unfortunately) whereas dogs have to be kept under their owners' control.

Mishap Fri 20-Feb-15 18:21:37

Pompa - I do not think that the fact that the trout does not learn from experience necessarily means they do not feel pain - it just means they are not very bright.