Let’s Talk Shit!

The topic of dog fouling seems to be a very common one of late. On Facebook pages and groups, on dog related and non-dog related forums and I seem to be having similar conversations face to face while out walking dogs too. Everywhere I go people are complaining about the amount of dog shit that is littering ou20160210_0615r parks, greenspaces and footpaths, everywhere across the entire borough. But whilst I find the mine-field of dog turds totally disgusting and a very annoying problem in our community, as someone with a keen interest in canine nutrition, what I also see is an epidemic of unhealthy dogs.

As a dog walker I daily use many parks and greenspaces and it is a huge problem, dog poo is just about everywhere you turn, even on pavements and footpaths. Dog fouling is also a growing problem in alleyways where residents are using the gated alleys as a secure and extremely lazy method of exercising their dogs.

A quick search for ‘poo’ (as you do haha) on one of the community Facabook pages of my hometown, People of St Helens, brings up a list of complaints of dog fouling – some even posting pictures of the offending turds. The People of St Helens just love to moan about dog shit. It’s relentless. And if they’re not moaning about dog shit, they’re moaning about people moaning about dog shit. Even non-dog shit related posts turn into dog shit threads.

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Joking aside though, it’s no wonder, really, that so many are complaining about it, it’s beyond belief in some places. Often, when I pick up my dog’s poo I’m surrounded by up to half a dozen turds from other dogs.

We often see letters from readers of the local newspaper penning their disgrace at the amount of fecal deposits. Last week in the St Helens Star, a reader complains “The grass verges at the crematorium are covered in dog poop and these owners obviously don’t care because now they are letting their dogs poop on the paths.” and calls on Council officials to “to prosecute these people and publicise convictions.”

I gave St Helens Council a call to find out what, other than what was published on their website, they were doing about it and had a lengthy chat with the Environmental Health team who agreed that the issue of dog fouling in our borough is a very serious problem and one they are seriously trying to impact. Last year £1.7m was spent clearing up the borough’s alleyways etc (not only from dog fouling I should add). Money which, the council explained, should be spent on essential services for the young, old and vulnerable in our town. The council currently employ three full time dog wardens, two enforcement officers and an assistant to help try and tackle the problem.

Last year’s successful dawn til dusk patrolling of reported hotspots around the borough by Council Enforcement Officers is set to return. Fixed Penalty Notices carrying an £80 charge will be issued to those found not clearing up their dog’s mess. Last year as many as fifty FPNs were issued. There were also two criminal prosecutions. In November 2014 it was reported that a Dog fouling offender pays the price of over £1000 for failing to clean up after her dog.

1300652_a4_dog_waste_poster_5_Page_2As well as the hard hitting enforcement approach, it was also explained how the council are proactively engaging with the public in a bid to educate about the nuisance and financial impact dog fouling has, with press releases and constant reminders to clean it up and the availability of Free Poop Scoop bags at libraries and from Wesley House in the town centre, Housing Association Offices and Ranger bases.

Report it! The council ensures that their enforcement team will target any hotspots but this needs to be reported so that problem areas can be identified. In response to the Star reader’s call for prosecutions, the council stated they will prosecute repeat offenders but they need robust evidence and statements.

Report Dog Fouling to St.Helens Council Contact Centre on 01744 676789, online or via the Council mobile phone app which you can download free of charge from the Apple iTunes App Store, the Android Market and the Blackberry App World.

For more information contact the Council’s Dog Welfare and Enforcement Team on 01744 676338 or email environmentalhealth@sthelens.gov.uk

In the summer of 2015, Sussex resident Andrew Hawes, 43, who calls himself ‘The Turdinator’ planned to hide, camouflaged between bushes in his local park in a bid to photograph those who do not clean up the mess, reported the Daily Mail. He also set up a Facebook page called Leiston Dog Mess name & shame where he posts pictures and videos of those who failed to clear up after their dog.

Rather extreme measures and rather costly too, I would have thought, but Barking and Dagenham Council of East London say they will be the first in the UK to use forensic testing to catch owners who fail to clear up after their dogs, it was reported by The Telegraph.  Under the plans, the dogs’ DNA would be collected by a cheek swab which is sent to a laboratory. The dog’s profile is then added to a central register, compiled by PooPrints UK. Offending turds would then be tested and traced back to the owner.

IMG_5400Back on the topic of health, if my dogs’ stools were of the same ‘quality’ of the majority I see, I would be extremely concerned. And don’t even get me started on the bright coloured shite that can only possibly come from the artificial colouring that infects many dog foods – you know, the cheap supermarket’s own brand that comes out the same colour and smell as it went in. I bet you could even identify which dog foods produced many of the ‘cowpat’ dog turds just by matching the colour of the shit to the product.  Dogs can only be getting the very minimum nutrition from it.

Anyone who leaves their dogs producing the kind of shite we see littering our streets and parks ought to be ashamed. Not only for not clearing it up but also for leaving their dog with an unhealthy diet. Dogs deserve to be kept in the best of health we possibly can and that begins with their diet.

Many of us are already familiar with the Bristol Stool Chart, if you’re not, you should be. After all, ‘you are what you eat’ as Gillian McKeith would say. If you were producing sloppy stools all the time you would do something about it, wouldn’t you? Maybe improve your diet? Well this also applies to dogs, only they can’t usually decide for themselves what they eat.

BristolStoolChart

Now, call me weird if you like but I’m a bit of a poo fanatic, I need to check my dogs’ excrement daily and if it isn’t a number 3 on the chart, I need to know what’s wrong. If your dog is producing stools that are not normal or that smells horrid  then there is something wrong and you need get it sorted, the sooner the better (yes you read that correctly, good quality poo shouldn’t smell strong or really foul). Your dog’s health and longevity of life depends on it. More on that in another article <link here>.

Bag it & Bin it! You can dispose of a tied-bag containing dog waste in any public bin in St.Helens. If one is not available in the area, you can take your dog waste home with you, as it is still an offence to leave it on designated land, even if a bin is
ndickybagot available.  I use a “Dicky Bag“, strange name for it, I know, but I think they’re great. I won’t take dogs out without it now. It certainly beats swinging a bag of turds at arms length until you find a bin. (Although I do like put it in my pocket in the winter, just til it’s gone cold hehe).

Always be prepared. Carry a poop-scoop or bag; Place your hand in the plastic bag; pick up the dog waste using the plastic bag as a glove; turn the bag inside out so the dog waste is inside and tie the bag up and bin it.

Even if your dog has diarrhoea, you are still obliged to make a reasonable effort to clear it up. One method I use is to grab a few handfuls of dirt and cover it, then scoop up the dirt. Having said that, if you know your dog has you should seriously be considering if you should actually be taking him out. Although usually indicative of upset digestive system or food intolerance, diarrhoea can also be the symptom of serious illness.

Dog waste is a dangerous pollutant – it can spread parasites and a list of diseases, it attracts flies, it smells and is generally unpleasant. Leaving your dog’s waste in areas were children may play is putting them at risk of disease and you should be put up against a wall and shot with shit from a catapult for leaving it there.

Oh, and dog waste does not make good fertilizer, as I’ve heard a few morons state. Leaving your dog’s waste to get washed away by the rain just contaminates water supplies and is a danger to farm animals and wildlife, particularly fish.

ScoopPoop

It was said recently during a conversation I was having on a dog walk, “I can’t understand why there is so much dog shit everywhere. When I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s we didn’t see anywhere near as much and we never had poop-scooping laws back then either. And, dogs were even left to roam the streets all day so you’d think there would be much less, wouldn’t you?”

Well, the number of dog owners has steadily increased for many decades according to the Pet Food Manufacturing Association. The number of dogs per household has also increased. Another problem is that, given the choice, most dogs would go off somewhere out of sight to take a dump, they actually like privacy. Many dogs nowadays are never let off the lead like they were, so  even though they would prefer to go behind a bush, they have to do it at lead’s-length from wherever the owner is willing to walk – which is usually on the path. Which is why we see so many turds along the side of pathways.  And I know it is mostly those that are out after dark when no one can see them leaving it.

What I believe is also a factor in the amount of dog shit we see is our change of feeding habits. Back in the 60’s, 70’s and well into the 80’s we fed our dogs mostly tinned food, meat and bones from the butchers, or our left-overs. Tinned food was often high in bonemeal which, as if by magic, made dog poo turn white and crumble into dust in no time at all. Today we feed our dogs mostly dry complete foods that are made of large quantities of cereal or corn to bulk up the food. Dogs can’t process so much grain which causes them to excrete much more poo and often quite sloppy. Try feeding your dog for a whole week on raw meat, fruit and veg and then a whole week on dry complete food and see the difference in the amount of shit the dog produces. Kibble produces more shit than real meat – which, for me, demonstrates that dogs aren’t getting as much nutrition from the crap they’re eating.

So come on folks, let’s get this shit cleaned up!
Have some pride in your neighbourhood, some respect for those living around you and for the sake of your dog’s health, get his diet sorted!

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