Fed up with some people letting their dogs poop in farmers fields and the country side coupled with a refusal to pick it up, well you are not alone.
As a responsible dog owner I started to wonder when walking my dog and that of others why I come across so much dog poop that other owners have turned a blind eye to. Worse still there seems to be a rise in people who drive or walk to gated fields and let their dogs off lead to toilet, but don’t pick it up or go as far as picking it up their dogs deposits, only then to leave the bags in the bushes or throw them in trees!!!!
Only the other day, I was walking a dog in the countryside and witnessed a female of senior years with a small terrier breed, pick up her dogs poo in a black bag, tie it up and then in full view abandoned it right by the side of a house running along the field. Furthermore, I have witnesses business vans turn up at the gate let out their dog to toilet, then call it back and drive off.
Now, recent research published by the “journal Environmental Sociology” throws some light on the reasons why certain dog owners just won’t pick up after their dogs and a some dog businesses like R.V.C.C feel this might be of interest to friends and readers.
While raising the standard of cleanliness has been high on the list of both domestic and community areas of Western cultures it remains a mystery why dog fouling is still a major problem in urban, pedestrian spaces and the country side. That said, research points out, that pet dogs are the only domestic animals that are purposely taken out into public areas, frequently with the sole intention of him or her to urinate and defecate.
In the UK dog fouling is one of the most common complaints to local councils. Furthermore, The Keep Britain Tidy campaign group claim that the number of areas that are affected by dog poop is increasing rapidly. It’s estimated that the 8 million dogs living in the UK produce as much as 1,000 tonnes of excrement each day.
One explanation for the rise in poop deposits corresponds with the rise in the number of dogs per household in Western Countries since the second World War. Also, people tend to treat their dogs as family members on par with human counterparts, hence, regarded as having the same importance.
Annoyingly its how the media omit to give adequate attention to how dog poop should be kept separate from the daily lives of people, when discussing mess as being a potential carrier of disease, as well as having other obvious environmental impacts.
Why don’t people just pick up after their pets?
The main factor the research established was simple human disgust at having to pick up excrement from any animal or other human. Hence, out of sight and out of mind is best. Given the human distaste for all things associated with excreted material the regard for hygiene and fear of infection; it is somewhat strange that in general, dog waste in public spaces is still almost an accepted aspect of human social life despite periodic public debate.
“Another interesting reason arising from the research is that some dog owners might even feel that allowing their dog to excrete wherever it wants is an expression of their own and perhaps their dog’s own freedom.” Maybe this correlates with the fact that many humans regard their pets as being on a level with people, so their, “Fur babies”.
One dog walker who was being observed allowing their dog to foul, was asked by the researcher “ why do you allow your dog to poop there and not somewhere else,” the walker replied ‘when my dog needs to go; he has to go, “animals have rights too”.
Now this leads to the relationship between ignorance, or applied ignorance, where irresponsible dog owners claim they don’t know what the problem is, and then actually defend their dog’s right to deposit where ever it wants to.
Furthermore, the research also suggests that by engaging in the responsible action of having to pick up the dog’s poop might somehow damage the close relationship between owner and dog.
I am sure that may people like myself have witnessed some dog owners purposely looking in the other direction, walking away or even talking or texting earnestly on their mobile phones, while their dog is in the throws of depositing.
What about the people who scoop the poop, only to dispose of the bag in a tree or on a gate post?
The odd mindset of people who collect up a dog poo and then dump it in the long grass or worse, throw it high into a tree or leave it hanging on a gate post is another growing phenomenon that must baffle any responsible dog owner and must have an impact on non dog lovers. The prevalence of bio-degradable bags is perhaps a contributing factor for the logic of the mystery poo bags decorating the hedgerows and with over 8 million dogs in the U.K it only takes a small number of irresponsible owners to create a very displeasing addition to the landscape.
A lack of bins in cash strapped areas or more rural spots should not be used as an excuse to dump bags of poop. That said, it’s clear that there are dog owners out there who think it’s ok do this.
The research raises other suggestions such as owners go part way to feeling good about doing what is expected, hence clearing up after their dog, to the extent that they are happy to display this act by quite publicly dangling it from the nearest fence-post or tree. This might also advocate that dog poop left in bags is akin to some sort of,“collective communication”. Therefore, the person has picked up the poop, but the visual existence of it says, “There are no bins for me to put it in, but as a responsible citizen I have done my part…”, while at the same time still defending their dog’s right to deposit whenever, and wherever he or she wants to.
It seems that, the relationship between dog, owner and the dog’s act of defecating can be seen as an intimate part of understanding a dog. The research suggests that dogs then become, “mediators for humans between wild nature and tamed culture”.
Furthermore, it is postulated that because humans have not had the freedom since medieval times to defecate wherever they want in public and with no need for regard to privacy, some dog owners are projecting this right onto their pet dogs.
What have councils done?
Some councils’, such as Islington and Nottingham have in the past used, “‘Poovers’. Initially used in some cities in Europe, ‘Poovers’ are built around motor scooters that have been equipped with industrial vacuums and can collect around 240 litres of dog poop and convert it to slurry. “ However, these were withdrawn from use in 2002 and Paris stopped using them in favour of introducing heavier fines.
What other Councils have done
They have adopted higher surveillance tactics by using plain clothes officers and even night vision goggles, in an aim to catch people allowing their dogs to foul public areas and issue instant on-the-spot fines.
Banning dogs from certain areas
Banning dogs from certain public areas such as certain areas on housing estates, beaches and other green spaces is now widespread across the U.K. because of irresponsible owners allowing their dog(s) to foul.
Sociological studies found some interesting reasons surrounding the issue and frame the phenomenon as being dependent on several fundamental elements:
Relationship between dog and owner,
The issue of denial that a problem exists,
The correlation between point 2 and a dog’s right to poop wherever it pleases.
However, most people would agree that a responsible owner will remove their dog’s deposits and place it in a bin or take it home, because it is the only right thing to do if you care about the collective impact on society as a whole.
In 2014, new legislation was passed which is part of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act passed, meaning that anyone caught without reasonable means on their person of clearing up dog poop will be fined £100. Failure to pay this fine will result in prosecution at a magistrate’s court, with the fine rising to £1,000.
The Dog Fouling Act of 2016 places responsibility on “the person in charge of the dog” at the time of the misdemeanour. Earlier this year, a pet owner was given a hefty fine of £860 for accumulating to much pet litter in her garden.
Are there any exceptions to the rules?
Given dog waste can be harmful to the environment, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that there are few exceptions to the dog fouling laws.
The exceptions defined
People with disabilities that restrict their sight or mobility are exempt, including pet owners that are registered as blind.
Working animals, such as police or sheep dogs, are generally unlikely to be fined if they poop while on duty.
Note: Its illegal to leave dog waste in the majority of public spaces.
However, you can avoid getting a fine if you leave mess in areas used for agriculture or woodland. Furthermore, the law also doesn’t apply on rural common land, marshland and motorways.
If you see a dog owner who is continuously breaking the dog fouling laws, you can report them to your local council.
Some assembly boards are considering some very drastic measures when it comes to reducing the environmental problem. One council proposes using e-fit style images of dogs to try and name and shame guilty owners. While another is considering using Drones to deal with the issue. Liverpool is considering scrapping council tax for those who help catch pet owners that do not pick-up after their furry friends.