By Josh Weiss-Roessler
We’ve all been there. Maybe you’re playing with your dogs in the dog park. Or simply walking them around your neighborhood. Everything is going great, and then it happens — poop.
Some less-considerate dog owner just left their dog’s, well, leavings for you to discover. If you’re lucky, that just means an annoyed sigh and an effort to step around it. If you’re not, you might be hosing off your shoes when you get home.
It’s not just a huge annoyance, but an actual health hazard, since rain can drive this fecal matter into our water supply and increase the spread of diseases. To combat the dog poop menace, cities and neighborhoods have tried posting signs, giving out poop bags, and fining people, but in many areas, this does little to stem the tide. What else can we do?
Here are just a few of the innovative programs that are being implemented by governments and concerned citizens around the world.
In Brunete, a small town outside of Madrid, Spain, some dog owners may start to fear the postman. Why? Because the local government was so tired of people neglecting to clean up their dogs’ mess that they found volunteers willing to patrol the streets and watch for them.
When they notice an owner who doesn’t pick up after their pet, they immediately head over and talk to the person, making sure to ascertain the dog’s name and breed. Then, when the owner leaves, they scoop the mess up in a special government-branded box. By learning the name and breed of the dog, they can figure out the name and address of the owner using the town’s registered pet database.
You can guess what happens next, right? The box is labeled “Lost Property,” and a courier delivers it right back to the guilty pet owner. How well has it worked? Well, since the campaign began, there has been a 70 percent reduction in abandoned dog waste. Not too shabby.
A far less punitive plan can be found in parks around Mexico City, where the Mexican internet portal Terra is encouraging people to pull out those pooper-scoopers by offering free Wi-Fi. How does the program work? They equipped parks around the city with special boxes where people could throw away their dog poop. The higher the weight of the poop in the box, the more minutes of free Wi-Fi available to everyone in the park. To encourage and promote the event, they even hired hostesses to hand out poop bags and keep an eye on the boxes.
Have you ever seen the Dudley Moore movie Crazy People? The idea is that he’s a marketing exec who becomes crazy enough to just tell consumers the truth in his ads. Things like, “Take Pepto Bismol or you’ll have severe stomach problems and die.”
Well, it seems like the city of Bristol, England had something similar in mind with their latest campaign to get people to clean up after pets. There’s no threat of death, but they do feature signs with toddlers picking up dog poop, smearing it all over themselves, and even eating it.
A stunt for shock value? Maybe. But if you have a toddler, you know it’s not out of the realm of possibility. And if that’s not enough to make parents remember to clean up after their dogs, I don’t know what is.
What creative ways has your community come up with to deal with dog poop? Let us know in the comments!