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Pandemic presents puppy poo problems

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  • 4:45 reading time (ish)
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Over the past year, we have faced an unprecedented number of challenges. From concerns about health, to lockdown loneliness and anxiety, the pandemic really has taken its toll.

We have all had to find new ways to cope, whether through new techniques for working from home, virtual ways to keep up with friends and family, or furry companions to keep us company.

Pandemic pets

When it comes to the latter, is has been reported that a total of 3.2 million households in the UK have acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic in response to social isolation. In fact, according to research by the Pet Food Manufactures’ Association, there are now 17 million pet-owning homes across the country, leaning on their animal for companionship.

Four-legged friends are a popular choice, and recent data suggests that there are now an estimated 9 million dogs in the UK. It seems those who had been putting off getting a dog, due to lack of time, suddenly found themselves with ample, with lockdown providing the perfect opportunity to finally raise a puppy.  But with the sharp rise in pandemic pups, comes another issue – a significant increase in dog poo.

The country’s dogs are responsible for producing about 340g of waste – or over 3,000 tonnes between them – every single day. Cleaning it up is the owner’s responsibility, but it seems they have been falling short. In fact, ask anyone – from local residents and social media users, to council workers and environmental health experts – we are currently in the middle of a dog mess emergency.

Growing concern

This problem isn’t necessarily new. The issue of pup owners shirking their cleanup responsibilities is a long-standing issue. But following a sharp rise in dog ownership, combined with more time and flexibility to walk them, the situation is getting out of control.

There is growing evidence on social media from disgruntled ‘poo-steppers’, who claim that lockdown has fuelled this bad behaviour. And many suggest that lockdown number three has seen the worst offenders yet.

Despite the warnings, and fines for those caught in the act, the issue is threatening to ruin public places, and give dog owners a bad name.

Messy business

Aside from being incredibly unpleasant for those enjoying an outside space, dog poo ridden paths are also a health hazard. The faeces are full of viruses and bacteria, and anyone, particularly children playing on the ground, can run the risk of picking up an infection and becoming unwell. The greatest risk to public health is from an infection called toxocariasis.

Toxocariasis is an infection of the round worm, which can be deposited in dog poo. A puppy can pass as many as 15,000 roundworm eggs per gram of faeces, and they are a major source of environmental contamination. They become infectious after three weeks and can survive for up to three years in soil. 

Anyone, but particularly children playing near to the ground, can run the risk of picking up and swallowing the eggs. The eggs then hatch in the intestine, burrow through the intestine wall into the blood stream, and pass into the body. This can cause a range of symptoms, from aches, dizziness and nausea, to asthma and pneumonia.

Protecting health

Given the impact that such an infection can have on a member of the public, dog owners have a great responsibility to ensure they are not contributing to this problem.

The rules couldn’t be clearer. Pick up after your dog. The Control of Dogs Ordinance (1992) clearly states that an offence is committed if a person in charge of a dog fails to clean up his faeces. This law applies to all public places and failure to comply could result in prosecution or a fine.

In England and Wales, local authorities can introduce public spaces protection orders, making it an offence not to clean up dog mess in certain areas. This means that a person who doesn’t clean up after their dog may face an on-the-spot fine, or a fixed penalty notice, of up to £80. If a person refuses to pay they can be taken to the local Magistrates Court for dog fouling offences and fined up to £1,000.

In Scotland, The Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003 makes it an offence for a person not to clear up after their dog has defecated. Fixed penalty notices currently stand at £40, and the maximum fine for such an offence can rise to £500.

No excuses

Ignorance is no defence. Most public places, such as footpaths, parks and recreational grounds, have clear notices highlighting the rules and punishments for failure to comply. Educating dog owners on proper etiquette, and making them aware of the consequences, can make a big difference to compliance.

At JPS, we create a wide range of high-quality signs that can support the battle against dog fouling. From ‘No Fouling’ to ‘Clean It Up’ signs, there are numerous ways to get your message across. It doesn’t have to be heavy-handed. We also supply more humorous options such as ‘Do Not Empty Your Dog Here’. Regardless of your tone, the messaging remains clear – pick it up, or pay up.

If we want to tackle the puppy poo pandemic, we need to make sure dog owners are clear on the rules at all times. To find out how we can help you improve compliance with dog fouling laws through high quality signs, get in touch today on 01285 650441.

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