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Dogs in nappies – a possible solution to dog poo on Caithness streets?

By David G Scott

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After many complaints about dog poo on the streets of Wick and Thurso a rubbish collection company has thought up a bold solution – putting our furry friends into nappies.

Eco-friendly waste collection company Divert.co.uk's proposal is that, much like some dog owners do when their female dog is in season, owners are required to put a nappy on their dog when walking in public spaces. A drastic move, but not the first legal requirement put in place to stop dog owners fouling up streets.

Could this be the solution to dog poo blighted streets?
Could this be the solution to dog poo blighted streets?

Since lockdowns began in March 2020, the amount of dog poo has increased 200 per cent on Britain’s streets, there is more poo than people on the streets – creating a filthy wave of unsanitary and visibly dirty public areas.

Some have blamed a lack of police presence for the increase, stating that while police were busy dealing with lockdown breakers and summer of protests, the average local community has fewer cops around to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Others have said lockdown itself is the problem: with fewer people on the streets, lazy dog owners have fallen into bad habits and – with nobody around to judge them for leaving a poo (or two) on the pavement they’re going about their day without cleaning the mess their four-legged friend has made.

Dogs walking in nappies could take off in the UK think a eco aware company.
Dogs walking in nappies could take off in the UK think a eco aware company.

When interviewed, one owner – who wished to remain anonymous – blamed the rules on staying at home: “I know it’s not right, but I’ve been leaving the house just to walk the dog around streets near me rather than the park where there are loads of poo bins, and then I go straight home. I didn’t want to get fined for wandering around looking for a bin instead of exercising and I didn’t want to carry a bag of poo with me longer than I needed to.”.

Divert.co.uk spokesperson, Mark Hall, said: “It might sound like a joke but this is deadly serious - dog poo is a blight on our streets and owners must be held accountable one way or another. Dogs in the UK produce 900 tonnes of poo every day and we don’t want that to start finding its way to our streets, parks, and footpaths. We all love our furry friends and they bring a lot of joy into owners’ lives, but it shouldn’t mean someone else has to deal with telltale piles of poo that seem to follow behind.”

Dog faeces also contains a dangerous bacteria called toxocariasis which can cause blindness – which is why many children’s play areas ban dogs.

Dog in nappies keeping the street clean.
Dog in nappies keeping the street clean.

A law passed in 1982, The Control of Dogs Ordinance, states it’s an offence to fail to clean up a dog’s faeces while in public and no excuses, such as not having poo bags or not knowing the law, will wash when trying to challenge a prosecution or fine. Of course, this law relies on a police officer spotting the dog in the act, whereas the proposal to make dogs wear nappies in public spaces would be constantly visible and offenders could be spotted much more easily.

Mr Hall concluded: “It’d be unacceptable to let a human defecate on the street, there’d be uproar if it suddenly became common to pick your way through human faeces – why do some people think it’s fine because it’s a dog? We don’t want to get to a point where dogs are seen as a public nuisance – they’re man’s best friend, but not when they’re messing up pavements, getting stuck in pram wheels and all over your toddler’s shoes.

“Fines for not complying would certainly send a message, and we hope this campaign will make dog owners sit up and take notice, as well as the lawmakers who crack down on this kind of behaviour - it quite literally stinks.”

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