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Why Anne Main is Wrong

I feel there are few people better placed to comment on the behaviour and attitude of dog owners in regards to dog fouling.

For the last 8 years I have travelled the UK and spoken to hundreds of thousands of dog owners about the problem of dog fouling, including the dumped poo bag problem the lack of bins and where they believe it is acceptable to not pick up.

The biggest problem is not the lack of bins, but the lack of information on why they should pick up and I also believe making different rules in different places is the route of the problem. People believe already that the issue is just one of human feet not stepping in it, whereas the truth is microscopic menaces, like E. coli, Neospora and Toxicaris found in dog waste, are harmful to humans, livestock and the environment. 1 gram of dog faeces contains 23 million faecal coliform bacteria. These bacterias and pathogens can live on in the soil for years after the mess has degraded and filter in the water system, so although people believe it is better to leave the poo to break down and disappear “naturally” there is no such thing. Just because you can’t see it anymore doesn’t mean it’s not harmful. Studies in the US show that dog poo is the number 3 cause of water pollution and that our natural ecosystem can cope with 2 dogs per square mile (now think how many dogs you see on your walk in the woods!) The Environmental Protection Agency labelled dog waste as a non-point source pollutant placing it in the same category as herbicides and insecticides; oil, grease and toxic chemicals; and acid drainage from abandoned mines.

As with smoking, and now mobile phones, it should be a blanket rule, every owner should pick up everywhere! That way everyone understands the rule, the lines aren’t blurred, and it will be socially unacceptable to consider leaving mess or dumping bags anywhere. This way you are passing on the right for other citizens to disapprove of those they see not clearing up, and social pressure is a powerful tool.

There are alternatives to static bins needing to be provided meaning that owners can transport bags of dog waste for miles until a convenient disposal point, which can even be their own bins at home. Our version of this is even manufactured here in the UK, but in the 8 years we have been in business, only once has any organisation promoted the fact that there is an alternative that means there is no excuse for not picking up or dumping poo bags. This could even lead to councils having to spend less money on dog bins.

Knowledge is key, tell people there is another way, tell them that dog mess must be removed from everywhere, otherwise you are going to increase the problem, not decrease it. The boundaries will be blurred, lazy owners will believe they have the option to choose whether or not they should pick up and you can’t trust them to make the correct choice. If you choose to pass a bill advocating leaving dog mess anywhere, you will see an increase in the problem, more complaints to councils, more wasted money/resources on dog wardens who can rarely catch the culprits and more hatred between dog owners and non-dog owners.

We have come so far with this issue, don’t forget 30 years ago picking up after your dog was the rarity, but now it is just the few that flout the laws. This idea of “Stick and Flick” is a very dangerous one; I feel sure it will set the campaign back 15 years. Just because people are too lazy to carry a poop bag to a bin doesn’t mean we should change the rules for them, if we took that stance on everything we would live in a very chaotic world!

Why Anne Main is Wrong

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