Dog Poop Bags in Trees – Why?


Dog poop is a growing problem as it is. However, there is the added issue of bags being left in bushes and even left in trees – dangling high above everyone’s heads. Holidays4Dogs looks into the problem of dog fouling and, in particular, the issue of bags of poop being littered in the environment.

While in many areas of Western culture, raising the standard of cleanliness has been high on the list of both domestic and community arenas, it remains a mystery why dog fouling is still a major problem in urban and pedestrian spaces.  However, research aims to discover the environmental and social impacts of dog fouling in the UK.

How big is the problem of dog fouling in the UK?

In the UK, dog fouling is one of the most common complaints to local councils. The Keep Britain Tidy campaign group claim that the number of areas affected by dog mess is rising rapidly.

There are nine million dogs in the UK and it is estimated they produce as much as 3,000 tonnes of excrement each day. This figure has risen rapidly in recent years which many attribute to pandemic puppies and resulting poop.

Are there any solutions to dog fouling?

Some councils’, such as Islington and Nottingham have in the past used, ‘Poovers’. Initially used in some cities in Europe, ‘Poovers’ are, essentially, motor scooters equipped with industrial vacuums. These vacuums can collect around 240 litres of dog poop and convert it to slurry.  However, these machines were withdrawn from use in 2002 and Paris stopped using them in favour of introducing heavier fines.

Higher surveillance tactics have been employed by other councils in the U.K. For example, deployment of plain clothes officers with night vision goggles.

Local authorities aim to catch people allowing their dogs to foul public areas and issue, instant, on-the-spot fines. In the United States some areas have even resorted to DNA testing dog mess and tracing it back to the owner.

More recently, the Scottish environment charity, Keep Scotland Beautiful  ran their #TurdTag campaign to find out how big the problem was and raise public awareness of the issue.

Banning dogs from certain public areas is now widespread across the U.K. due to the problems of dog fouling.

Why don’t people pick up after their pets?

The main factor established by research on the subject is simple disgust at having to pick up excrement. The existence of dog waste in public spaces, therefore, is an almost an accepted aspect of human social life. This despite periodic public debate.

Research also suggests that, by allowing their dog to excrete wherever it wants, the owner feels their pet is provided an expression of deserved freedom. This perhaps correlates with the fact that many humans regard their pets as, “fur babies”.

One dog walker, allowing their dog to foul, was asked by a researcher why he had allowed his dog to poop. The walker retorted that when the dog needed to go; he had to go and that, “animals have rights too”.

This leads to the concept of applied ignorance -where irresponsible dog owners claim they don’t know what the problem is. In addition, they tend to defend their dog’s right to excrete where it wants.

Why do people scoop the poop, then throw poop bags in trees?

The madness of collecting up a dog pooh and then dumping it anywhere but a bin is a growing phenomenon. One that must surely baffle any responsible dog owner. The prevalence of bio-degradable bags is perhaps a contributing factor to the mystery poo bags decorating the hedgerows. With over 9 million dogs in the U.K., it only takes a small number of irresponsible owners to create a very displeasing addition to the landscape.

A lack of bins in cash-strapped areas, or more rural spots, should not be an excuse to dump poop bags. However, there are dog owners who feel they have the right to do this. Research suggests some people seek to display their good deed, (picking up) by publicly dangling it from the nearest fence post or tree.

Hence the person picks the poop up, but the visual existence of it says, “There are no bins for me to put it in, but I have tried and done my part as a good citizen…”. At the the same time, such owners defend their dog’s right to poop whenever, and wherever, they need to.

In other words, the dog’s act of defecating can be seen as an intimate part of understanding a dog. Research suggests that dogs then become, “mediators for humans between wild nature and tamed culture”.

Whether people pick up or not, sociological research has found interesting reasons surrounding the issue. The phenomenon is dependent on several fundamental elements. These include; the relationship between dog and owner, the denial the problem exists and the dog’s right to poop wherever it pleases.

Final thoughts.

Whatever the sociological, or psychological reasons for people not scooping poop, most people would agree that picking up after your dog is the only right thing to do. This is especially so if you care about the collective impact on society as a whole.

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