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Flagging Doggy Doo

Public spaces should be respected and kept clean for the enjoyment of all; and around here, there is a group of people who are not all pulling their weight – Dog Owners.

Now, I’ve got animals that produce extraordinary amounts of excrement, but our dwarf bunnies could hardly be pinned as the culprits for depositing steaming brown mounds, often strategically located on walking trails around town. What is even worse, is when these piles are left behind in the winter, covered up by the owner or the next snowfall – out of sight, out of mind. That is, until Spring rolls around and walking these trails becomes an agility trial as one maneuvers through the minefield of semi-frozen doggy doo.

I guess what I’m saying, is that I understand the physics and the biology of it – but honestly, the psychology of it baffles me. An owner waits while the dog does it’s business – cause you know, the dog is on a leash of course – then the owner ignores the deposit and strolls on, presumably having to avoid the mess left by other dogs and their owners.

I hate to say it folks, the dogs are innocent in this – I know, I know, this seems to be a change of heart for me, but please don’t get the opinion that I’ll be signing any Canine Rights petitions anytime soon. The owners are entirely responsible for cleaning up their dog’s deposits, where ever they may be.

If you were wondering if there was an engineering or environmentally related point to this article, pet waste does contribute to elevated phosphorus levels as well as fecal bacteria in waterways. From a study conducted in North Carolina, reported in 2006…

Research shows cat and raccoon wastes actually pose larger microbial threats than pet waste, but until these species are routinely guided on walks over impervious surfaces near or surrounding water bodies, the focus remains on man’s best friend.

Respondents who said they walked their pets were asked how often they picked up their pet’s waste. A significant relationship exists between proper waste disposal and dwelling area. While urban and suburban dwellers reported more pet-walking than their rural counterparts, respondents who stated they “rarely” or “never” picked up pet waste made up 47% of urban pet walkers, 49% of suburban pet walkers, and 59% of rural pet walkers.

Respondent age was significantly associated with pet-waste pickup. North Carolina’s youngest (18 to 24) and oldest (65 years and older) residents are most likely to report they “always” or “often” pick up pet waste. Gender was also found to be significantly associated; 35% of women stated they “always” or “often” pick up pet waste compared to 28% of the men.

Source: Outreach by the Numbers | stormh2o.com

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Wondering what other communities around the world do to combat this, I was drawn to this article on Treehugger, and the linked articles from Germany and North Caronlina . It seems that little flags that can be stuck into the offending piles are becoming a popular solution to shame people into cleaning up after their dogs; in the German case, the tiny flag sports a witty, “Pile looking for Owner” message. Perhaps cities like Castlegar should invest in some doggy-doo flags to clean up our natural spaces, we could even come up with a competition to create the slogan – somehow I don’t think “Happily ever after” will make the cut this time. For a City that is so hung up on appearances, (don’t get me started on the Communities in Bloom program), our level of responsibility as pet owners is pretty dismal.

No wonder the City is so resistant about chickens – we can’t even look after our dogs.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

3 thoughts on “Flagging Doggy Doo

  1. The thing that absolutely disgusts me is the dog excrement deposited at the entrance to the Millenium Park here in Castlegar.
    I have often found piles of it within a few feet of the bag dispenser and on the area WHERE KIDS PLAY ON THE SWINGS ETC. How anyone can do such as thing as leave their dogs c–p there is beyound me.
    When I walk with my dog in the park, I always take a couple of extra bags from the dispenser and clean up where I can. I have seen one or two other people doing the same thing; kudos to them.

  2. This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine (pun not intended!) up here in R-town. I see a lot of very responsible dog owners picking up after their dogs, but there are always the few idiots who make things nasty for everyone. It’s pure effing laziness to NOT pick up after your dog. BUT, there are also an awful LOT of loose dogs here in town – I suspect they are the culprits. Loose doggies are also a pet peeve of mine. It makes me wonder if people really give a crap about their animals, knowing full well we have a by-law guy roaming around. I suspect loose dogs in this area make up a lot of the dog population at the SPCA – people don’t give a crap, so they don’t pay the fines, they surrender their animal, etc. It’s disgusting.

    Sorry about the rant!

    My word verification = “hotels ovaries” – LOL!!!

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