A new study in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management discusses the environmental, health and safety issues of dog walking and, in particular, scooping the poop.
Christopher Lowe of the University of Central Lancashire in Preston (UK) and colleagues hoped to determine what factors influence dog walker behaviour and how those who do not do the right thing might be persuaded to take charge of their dog mess.
The team suggests that there are five types of dog walker from the most to the least socially and environmentally responsible:
- Proud to pick up – happy to be seen carrying dog waste, will pick up in all locations and take it home if no bins are available
- It is the right thing to do – will pick up in public places but will seek to dispose of the waste as soon as it is practical; often embarrassed to be seen carrying bagged waste
- I have done my job – if there is no bin available will leave the bagged waste to be dealt with by someone else
- Only if I have to – will only pick up in the presence of other people – likely to discard when no one is looking
- Disengaged – will not pick up in any situation even if they are aware of the environmental consequences of their actions
Dog faeces are not only as unpleasant as any animal waste, they can also carry parasitic diseases that have health impacts on people and animals that come into contact with them. For instance, they might transmit toxocariasis, via the larvae (immature worms) of the dog roundworm (Toxocara canis), which can cause blindness, asthma and neurological problems in those affected. Dog faeces from animals that eat raw meat and bones are also suspected of causing neosporosis in cattle. The researchers also point out that the presence of dog faeces in country parks, walks and other recreational areas can deter visitors and so have a local economic impact in those areas.
The team’s final thoughts: The issue of getting dog walkers to do the right thing is both complex and emotive….more research is needed.
Source: AlphaGalileo media statement