Monday, July 20, 2009

Barking mad at litterbugs of different species

WHEN my friend read about how litterbugs were messing up our neighbourhoods, he told me that was nothing compared to what he was faced with in his area — dog poop.
Somehow, they have ways of turning up uninvited outside his gates or along his side of the road.
They would get stuck to his car tyres and get smeared all over the driveway.
Sometimes, he even accidentally steps on them.
By the time he discovers the mess, it would need more than a generous helping of industrial cleaners to get rid of the smell and smear.
At his wits’ end, my friend now silently curses the dog owners he sees walking their pets.
The sight of a stray dog coming in his direction would drive him into a frenzy and he would shoo the animal away before it could mark its territory with pee or poop.
It can be quite amusing if you catch him in the act.
You’d be forgiven for feeling that he should be named public enemy No 1 by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal.
However, the man is quite an animal lover and has a fair number of rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs in his backyard.
It’s only dogs and their poop that he can’t tolerate.
He wishes dog walkers would be more considerate than to let their pets pee or drop their poop anywhere they please.
“These people walk their dogs in public areas and they should pick up the poop and get rid of it prope r l y, ” he said.
I told him that what he was facing was actually a global phenomenon — except that in some developed nations such as Britain, it has become an offence to allow one’s dogs to relieve themselves in public areas such as roads, pavements and gardens.
Under the Dog (Fouling of Land) Act 1996 in England and Wales, the dog owner could be fined £40 (RM240) or up to £1,000 (RM6,000) if the matter goes to court.
Why it has been made an offence is because the authorities there have found that dog faeces carry the risk of toxocariasis, an infection of the round worm toxocara canis.
The larvae, if it gets into the human body and reaches the liver, can cause abdominal pains and fever.
If it reaches the eye, it can damage the retina and cause blindness.
According to research, a dog can pass out as many as 15,000 eggs of the worm per gramme of poop and each worm can lay up to 700 eggs a day.
Released when the dog defecates, the worm can survive up to three years in the soil.
Some countries have put up signboards to get dog lovers to clean up after their pets and even provide waste bins and free poop bags.
But not in our country.
So, I suggested a solution to my livid friend.
Instead of getting angry at the dogs, he could do what one chap in Britain did—take pictures of dog walkers and their pets in the act and paste them on a signboard on his lawn with the message: “Please clean up after your dogs” for all to see.
Perhaps then, the dog owners would be reminded that picking up poop is part of the responsibility of owning a dog.

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