Posted on September 25, 2015: A common excuse for littering in India is, “India will always be dirty, adding another item of filth to the streets won’t make much of a difference.” Most Indians don’t think twice about openly peeing on the streets or spitting. Little wonder then that there’s no national law that makes pet parents clean up after their pet defecates on the streets. Municipal laws may differ from place to place, like in Marine Drive in Mumbai, people use a poop scoop while walking their pets to avoid paying a fine.
A walking or jogging trail inundated with dog feces, may be annoying more so for those who don’t have dogs. Akashaditya Lama, script writer, theatre personality and non-pet parent says, “I had once updated on Facebook that pedigree dogs of those who are well off mess up the streets. While taking a walk, I am upset to see the ground littered with dog poop. When I’ve brought this to pet parent’s notice, they shrug it off dismissively. Especially when a helper is entrusted to walk a dog, he/ she is very callous about cleaning the dog’s excreta. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, which has been ushered in with great enthusiasm, can only be successful if the citizens of the nation are pro-active too. That includes pet parents who should clean up their pet’s mess. This isn’t to say that I don’t love dogs.”
Is the fine fair?
Mumbai Municipal Corporation and the Delhi Municipal Corporation, a while ago, were to impose fines on errant pet parents who didn’t clean their pets’ waste in public areas. This was met with opposition on social media, with pet parents perceiving it as an anti-pet law. They debated that there’s no fine on humans who pass excreta on the streets. They also argued that strays dirty the environment all the time.
Priya Florence Shah, publisher of naaree.com, pet parent to two female Labradors named Tiara and Chewie, however begs to differ, “In India people lack basic civic sense. Just because others litter the place, shouldn’t give you the right to do the same. Every pet parent should be responsible enough to clean his/ her pet’s litter, instead of leaving it for other people to clean up the mess. I usually pick up the dog’s fecal matter with a newspaper and throw it into the garbage. As I have fractured my leg, I cannot take my dog for a walk now. My dog walker has however been instructed to clean up my dogs’ litter.”
Dr S.N. Gadge, a vet with a clinic in Malad in Mumbai, alerts us, “It’s possible for people to catch an infection if your dog’s potty isn’t cleaned in open areas.” Indeed your canine’s fecal matter, may turn into a breeding ground for germs. Rainwater mixes with your pet’s potty and the pollutants merge with the water bodies. Animal waste may be a breeding ground of germs E. coli, Salmonella and Giardia. Roundworms and hookworms thrive in the feces, which in turn may be transmitted to both humans and animals.
Dr Gadge suggests that we use poop bags to clean the dog’s waste instead of using diapers, “Putting the dog in a diaper isn’t practical. You need to buy poop bags which are available in pet stores, they are quite inexpensive. Pick up the poop, by reversing the bag by slipping it into your hand and throw the excreta in a bin which is cleaned regularly by the municipal corporation.” Resuing regular plastic bags is also a good option.
Regarding your pet urinating while on a walk, Malaika Fernandes, Canine Behaviourist and Trainer at Walk Romeo in Mumbai says, “There are dog pee parks created on an elevation with an artificial bed of grass with a drainage system wherein the urine may be drained out. These dog pee parks are very popular abroad. If a park like that is not available, then it’s advisable to take your dog to a bush where most dogs relieve themselves. Dogs usually urinate against trees and car tyres. To prevent them from peeing against cars, it’s better to walk them close to trees or in parks. Sadly, many of the trees have been felled though. Dogs mark their territory by urinating, which may be reduced if the dog is neutered.”
Penalty in various countries
Here’s a quick look pet poop is dealt with in other countries:
- It is a civil violation in the USA, hence those who flout the rule pay a fine. In Ipswitch, Dallas, Boulder and New York City; all dogs living in the perimeters of the city have to undergo a compulsory blood test. Parents of dogs who don’t clean up are be nabbed in the process, as the dog may be identified by the poop.
- In Mexico City, pet parents who clean their dog’s mess are rewarded.
- In Belgium, pet parents who aren’t carrying at least three poop bags while walking their dog are instantly fined, whether or not their dog is caught littering.
- In the outskirts of Madrid in Spain, dog litter is returned to reckless pet parents in government packaging.
- In Naples in Italy, all the dogs of the city need to submit a cheek swab. The careless pet parent will have to pay 500 Euros, which approximately comes to US $ 565.42. Certain places in Canada and Israel, follow a similar policy.
- In Ireland, one may make a complaint to the court of the district against a pet parent who permits his/ her dog to mess public places.
- In the United Kingdom, under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, a fine anywhere between £75 and £1,000 may be imposed.
- In Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture in Japan, a new app encourages residents to report cases of dog poop left on the ground. These pictures are uploaded online to make an interactive map. The dirty areas will be specially monitored for the repeat offence.