Dogs don’t foul our pavements – dog owners do
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown has become a perilous pathway of stinky landmines
Dog poo seems to have taken over vast areas of the Earth’s surface – from paths to parklands, from grass verges to sandy beaches. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
I know this may sound like a lame homage to a recent column by my esteemed colleague Fintan O’Toole, but I feel I have to say it: dog owners drive me crazy. They make me fume, they make me boil over, they even make me want to slap them on the nose. Bad dog owner! Naughty dog owner! Go to bed! That kind of angry.
What is my beef with dog owners? Not their dogs. I’m a dog lover, with a natural urge to stop to pet other people’s canine companion, no matter how fierce-looking (the dog, not the owner). Do I have an issue with how dog owners look after their pets once Christmas has passed? No – I’m absolutely certain 99 per cent of dog owners look after their pets properly, and see to their every doggy need. So, I’m a dog lover. But I’m a dog owner hater. My problem with them is simple – a large proportion of the dog-owning community seems completely unwilling to take responsibility for their pets’ by-products.
My colleague was driven mad by cyclists taking over the pavement; I’m driven demented by how dog poo seems to have taken over vast areas of the Earth’s surface – from paths to parklands, from grass verges to sandy beaches. On our daily perambulation through my leafy southside suburb, I and my family have to perform a strange, twisty dance, as we dodge the countless piles of dog poo dotted along our route. It seems to get worse during the summer months – perhaps the warm weather makes people more inclined to walk their dogs, thus bringing increased opportunity for pavement-fouling.
Walking with my wife and two small children down to Seapoint on a summer’s day, we have to keep our eyes down to watch out for these stinky landmines lying in wait at every turn. The path that runs alongside the Dart line between Seapoint and the West Pier is particularly hazardous – we call it Dog S*** Alley. We can’t let our kids roll down the grass in the park at Seapoint, because it’s booby-trapped with little poo-bombs.
It’s just as bad when we’re walking our six-year-old to school in St Patrick’s in Holly Park. Actually, it’s worse. Some of the dog owners around here go to the trouble of putting the poo in plastic bags, but then, not being able to locate a bin anywhere in the vicinity, toss the bags onto the nearest patch of grass. Why bother bagging the stuff – it only prolongs the putrefaction.
Public health hazard
Do we need to be reminded that dog poo is a public health hazard? It causes kidney and intestinal problems, and is the cause of a virulent eye-infection that, when contracted by children, can cause blindness.
We are currently on holidays in lovely Lake Garda in Italy. It is dog central – the German tourists who flock here love big, hairy dogs. There is not a speck of dog poo along the lakeside walks – although the ducks are another matter altogether.
I don’t know how bad the dog poo problem is in other parts of Ireland, or Dublin, but Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown seems to have it bad compared with, say, Clontarf. Take a stroll down the boardwalk along the Clontarf Road, and dog poo is refreshingly rare. There are bins everywhere, and signs that remind you to use a bin, any bin, not just a designated dog-poo bin – to dispose of the waste. And dog owners there seem to be complying.