Wednesday, 17 September 2008

dog owners work together as a community

It infuriates me to see dog poo lying around on our streets or in our parks. People who don't pick up after their dog are lazy or dirty as far as I'm concerned.

When I see someone who is ignoring their dog's defecation, I ask myself whether they haven't noticed or whether they just don't care. If they look approachable, I might say, 'Would you like a bag?' if I have a spare one with me. But mostly I don't say anything if I'm alone.

I'm wondering how I would go if I lived in the villages of Denny or Dunipace, in the UK. They've set up a Green Dog Walkers project, in which volunteers will approach pet owners to ask them to sign a pledge to clean up after their animals. If people join the campaign they'll wear an armband that says they are green dog walkers.

I can't really see it working here in Melbourne, but I ask myself why it shouldn't. I think it's because we are such a big city and there's a creeping sense of anonymity in my area. I used to know everyone in my street but now most people don't even make eye contact.

Yet dog walkers do.

Maybe it could work...

I read about this campaign at the blog of Dogs Life, our Australian dog magazine. I've been reading it for years but just now realised it has an online component.


The Aphasia Decoder.... said...

Where I live in Michigan there is a fine if you're caught not cleaning up after your dog. We really don't have much of a problem with inconsiderate owners that way. No that everyone does but the cheaters are few and far between. I like you idea of asking if they need a bag.

Levi mom

parlance said...

Levi's mum, we also have a system of fines but I've never met anyone who even knows anyone who has been fined. On the other hand, I don't know anyone who wouldn't pick up after their dog.
The rule around here is that you should be able to show an official TWO plastic bags if asked. I always wonder how you could do that if your dog had already pooed.
But there aren't enough officials to enforce it.

Noah the Airedale said...

We always carry a string of shopping bags to clean up poop and sometimes there is a lot to clean I would be really embarrassed if I wasn't able to clean up the dales poopies.

Amber-Mae said...

It's happening everywhere Parlance! Both my Hooman M & Mommy get so angry when they see dog poop everywhere. They know one owner in the neighborhood who PURPOSELY makes his dog poop right on the area where we always walk everyday, right on the path hoping that we will step on it. And we have, several times! When Chloe & our hoomans went for the confirmation show few months back, MANY of the show dogs pooped all over the grounds & the owners see it as if it's like, it's not a big deal at all. They just continue talking one the phone or just walk off. And the funny thing is, everybody else who see the poop on the floor don't bother! Becoz they let their dog do the same thing too & they too don't pick it up! It's AMAZING!!! So actually, 99.9% of conformation dog owners are IRRESPONSIBLE people! Our hoomans were the only ones who found it a very big deal. The rest were like, wondering why? It's like, "It's just dog poop. Gee..." It's sooo sickening isn't it? You know, sometimes you really wonder who is the mutt. The dog or the owner?

Butt wiggles,
Solid Gold Dancer

Slavenka said...

I'm very angry when the second dog owners do not collect dog poo. This is very irresponsible.

parlance said...

Noah, it's a pretty good life for you canines, with attendants to clean up after for you. I think kings and queens in the Middle Ages might have had servants like that, too.

parlance said...

Amber-Mae, that is astonishing. I don't think anyone here would leave poo lying around at a show, because there would be too many people giving them hard looks.

parlance said...

Slavanka, you are right - it is irresponsible, because it spreads germs to other dogs, as well as possible to humans, especially children. I used to hate it when the children in my class would come into the room with dog poo on their shoes.

Vincent said...

Here in UK there is controversy about certain anti-terrorism laws, permitting local authorities to carry out surveillance, being used for other purposes.

One authority, following up a complaint by members of the public, made a video recording of a dog not being pooper-scooped by its owner, to be used as evidence in court.

When this was reported in the national press, the general response was to ridicule the authority for pooper-snooping and wasting of public funds.

It seems to me that what is needed is a strong sense of community disapproval to reach the offending dog-owners, not the clanking process of prosecution.

parlance said...

Vincent, when we first read the scary predictions in the novel'1984', we thought surveillance would come from a centralised authority, as in your pooper-scooper anecdote (thank God the general response was sensible!). Now I wonder if the ubiquity of mobile phone cameras isn't more of a danger to our rights.
I wonder whether, if I have an 'close encounter of the bad kind' with someone when I'm out with my dog, I'll whip out my phone and film the whole thing.

GDW Project Leader said...

Hi, I just found your blog! I'm the woman who started the Green Dog Walkers (CGI (c) 2008) project - we are running it through our group Community Green Initiative in Dunipace, Scotland, working with the Falkirk Council Litter Strategy Team. It is working!

We have signed up close to 200 folks so far, in a range of small villages mostly close to us but some far away...and had lots of publicity so folks are beginning to recognise what the armbands mean. Mostly we sign people up through one-on-one conversations at fairs, meetings, and our mini booth we set up next to dog paths. There is a lot of volunteer time to get this going but it is worth it and, in a perverse way, rather fun! At least you get to meet lots of cool dog owners and doggies.

The secret to the campaign is that the dog walkers who already DO clean up are the ones initially wearing the armbands and thus giving off a non-verbal "guilt" message to those who do not! We've made converts, including children who walk the family pet now and would not even walk the dog much less clean up after it, before!

I'd say about once a week I get a call from someone wanting us to come give a talk or set up a booth. The teens are getting behind this too, which is a very unexpected and delightful result...because if we can reach the kids, we can change the world!

We have just set up a blog on the process, it should be active in about 48 hrs at and we invite any and all visitors and comments!

As for your wondering whether it could work in a larger urban setting, I think it could! If it's backed by the gov't giving lots of publicity (we have ads on the backs of buses!) so people begin to know what the armband means when they see someone wearing it, then it works even if they are strangers and don't greet each other in passing. We are really trying to make it a social taboo to leave dog fouling, it's gentle peer pressure without confrontation.

We have a problem here with fines not being enforced so...other methods were needed, to get something moving!

Cheers, Michelle MCallum, GDW Project Leader