Last week, we mentioned on Facebook about a youth letting his dog poo on the canal towpath near Mossley, Congleton.
The lout rode ahead on his bicycle and left one of his dogs to leave a steaming turd in the middle of the towpath. The same space that families, cyclists, walkers and joggers share.
When we complained on Facebook, we were inundated with responses from people who are fed up with dog poo on paths and other public places. Obviously, most dog owners are responsible; it’s a tiny minority who don’t care about the rest of society.
Congleton Town Council already has a dog poo czar — Coun Glenn Williams, step forward — and there’s a dog warden, but they can’t be everywhere.
It seems clear that byelaws and fines are not the answer, because they are hard to enforce.
People won’t agree to fund an army of dog wardens on the public purse, and neither do people want to confront the poopy perps and collect details to take them to court.
The only way forward must be public pressure being brought to bear, that works even if there’s no-one around.
To digress a little: revolving doors in buildings exchange eight times less air than normal doors, which can add up to thousands of pounds in wasted energy costs per building per year, but offered the choice of revolving or normal door, most people plump for normal.
Students at MIT in the States found that they could get 70% of people to use revolving doors by sticking up a small sign saying: “Please use the revolving door. Help conserve energy”. That small nudge was enough. Perhaps the same is true for dog owners.
It’s not a problem that’s confined to Congleton, or even the UK. We asked editor chums in North America if they had the same problem.
Brian Wilson, in Wisconsin, said it was a common problem there, too, and said residents often left out their own dog poo bins for dog walkers to use.
Derek Kilbourn, in Alberta, had the same problem we have over here: people collecting dog poop in bags and leaving the bag in parks. “I’d rather they just leave the crap, at least it isn’t bright pink and lavender scented,” he said.
Gretchen Daniels, of Iowa, made the point that the view of the poop needing to be picked up might not be the correct one. “A fair and balanced article would toss in the two cents of why leaving it is organic and helpful for the ground and animal life,” she said.
But we all know the problems and how disgusting it is, but what are the solutions?
● Name and shame: we can print a list of sightings of turd transgressors. (Laws of libel apply). Derek Kilbourn wrote: “We have a Smiles And Snarls column, where people aren’t required to sign letters, so long as the smile or snarl is under 25 words. If someone wants to write: “Snarl — to the jerks who didn’t pick up after poopsie on Mary Road last Thursday” we’ll print that. It keeps people at least thinking about being responsible.” Something like that in the Chron might work.
● Bins: the need for more poop bins was suggested by several people on our Facebook page, which is down to Cheshire East Council or the town council. Brian said some of his locals put out weather-proof boxes filled with bags to pick up animal waste, and suggested the creation of dog parks where the “dogs can run and be dogs”.
● Markings: bins are good but people have to use them. One of our Facebook readers said that in Leek there are messages painted on the pavements, with arrows pointing to bins. As with revolving doors and the cheap signs, this might work with some people. It might be harder for people to let their pets poop and not scoop if there are obvious signs of a bin.
● Public pressure: reader Catherine Ellis said her sister lived on the Isle of Portland, where they have Portland Locals Opposing Poo (PLOP). They go out armed with biodegradable spray paint and highlight poo on the coastal walks.
If poops are sprayed, it tells dog owners that someone is watching, and might deter lazy dog owners.
Catherine also suggested the name for a local group: Congleton Residents Against Poos.
Congleton Town Council has some of the spray paint, so perhaps recognised local groups could use it in their area? So what about it? Congleton Residents Against Poos? Alsager Residents
Saying Enough? Sandbachians Hate Idiotic… well, you get the idea.
But it’s over to you. We can snarl at transgressors and print a house advert but a community effort is needed.
It doesn’t need to be confrontational: we have to create an environment that nudges people towards poopy picking.
Anyone up for it?