Debate: How should we tackle the problem of dog fouling?
Although most owners are responsible and clean up after their dogs, a small minority are still failing to do so. So what's the best way of dealing with foulers? Sophie Mackenzie looks at various tactics that have been used, from shocking and shaming owners, to rewarding those who clean up.
It was on a normal early morning walk when my eye was caught by what I first thought was graffiti on the road in front of me. Bright yellow paint, sprayed through a stencil... I tutted, then took a closer look and realised that the sprayed motif was a picture of a dog, in the squatting position familiar to any owner, and underneath it, in bold capitals, the words 'BAG IT. BIN IT'.
This campaign, started by disgruntled local residents, is just one measure taken to tackle a particularly intractable problem: the 1000 tons of faeces produced each day by Britain's eight million dogs. For responsible owners, the sight of a pile of poo on the pavement is as offensive as it is to non-dog owners. But some people see picking up after their dog as someone else's problem.
That someone is generally the local authority, and a various schemes have been deployed to tackle the dog mess menace. Some rely on the presence of visible dog wardens to deter offenders - or use undercover wardens to issue on-the-spot fines. Others spray the mess with luminous paint or plant flags in it. One council in Wales went for shock factor, producing a printed poster of a toddler, face smeared with chocolate, to make the point that small children will put anything in their mouths.
And the search for a solution isn't confined to the UK. Taipei City offered lottery tickets to everyone who handed in a bag of dog poo. Paris had its Motocrottes - scooters with vacuum attachments for poo disposal. One Spanish town identified the guilty owners, bagged up the mess and posted it back to them. It's even been suggested that the solution could be a DNA database of dogs, used to track down and fine the owners.
But what can individual dog lovers do to help? One friend tells how, after a five-minute rant at a man who'd failed to pick up after his dog, he humbly apologised and asked to use one of her poo bags. Another, exasperated by a repeat offender whose dog used his driveway as a toilet, put up signs along the street that read 'I KNOW WHO YOU ARE'. The fouling stopped. And, of course, simply picking up dog mess when you see it will help keep our streets and green spaces safe and clean.
Do you have a success story about victory over dog foulers? Do you think shocking or shaming is the way to go? And are you ever guilty of not cleaning up after your dog? Tell us in the comments.