Dog fouling inhibits children’s playPlaytime Latest

19/09/2013 – Dog fouling inhibits children’s play

A few years ago, on a lovely sunny summers day, my two younger sons were playing rolling down the long grassy hill in the Phoenix Park. Suddenly my youngest son, seven at the time, jumped up in tears. He had accidentally rolled his way through a heap of hidden dog crap. His clothes were covered, the smell was foul, and he was very distressed. Luckily we only live a few minutes’ walk away. I took him home and changed him as quickly as possible, but it was a disgusting end to what had been such a nice afternoon.
Dog fouling is a big problem everywhere - in cities, parks, and the countryside.  Ireland is not unique in this respect. So called ‘dog poop vigilantes’ are taking to the streets across the globe; spraying dog poo bright pink in the UK, spearing it with flags in the US, and in Germany campaigners have begun to leave witty messages in the poop in a bid to bring some humour to the problem.  In the city of Berlin alone it is estimated that about 30 million pounds of ‘canine crap’ foul up the footpaths and parks each year. That figure is based on the presence of just over 100,000 dogs in the city.  While there may not be quite so many dogs in Dublin City, in some parts of the city it can feel like several million tons of dog poop cover the footpaths, grass verges, and parks on any given day.
This is a particularly insidious problem for children. It is a health hazard full of parasites and bacteria.  Vulnerable toddlers stagger precariously passed dog poop and unsuspecting parents end up with buggy wheels smeared in poo trailing into their hallways. Meanwhile older children walking to school have to pick their way through mounds of vile smelling dung.  What are we thinking of, leaving it dumped where children play?
This September, Friday 20th, Playtime is participating in Park(ing) Day Dublin. Our theme is dog fouling and we hope to raise awareness of just how unacceptable it is to leave poop unscooped.  We are calling our parking space Mont Poo Lier Hill and we will transform it into a pocket park featuring a giant water balloon painted brown. We will also be proposing solutions, from providing more bins to innovative ways of recycling doggy doo.  Borrowing from international campaigners, flags stuck in dog poo will signal the way to our space.  We will have readings from Roddy Doyle’s hilarious The Giggler Treatment and we will be tweeting ‘worst ever poop experiences’ encountered by passersby at @ForShitesSake. 
There will be free tea and biscuits available and we hope to have a lot of fun on the day. But we are concerned about what is really a very serious problem. If we could all just be a bit more considerate, bag the poo and find a bin. We owe it to children to take responsibility for our dogs and keep the streets clean.