Do your doggie doo-doo duty

This morning, when walking to my car, I was greeted with a present left to me by someone out walking their pet dog. It was a poop, but not just any old poop. This was cartoonish in its dimensions: seemingly as big as a birthday cake, I could only wonder what kind of monster could have left it there. Worse still, it was right by my car door, meaning that I had to exercise extreme caution in getting into my vehicle.

Despite the distractions that came as part of my working day, I was unable to rid myself the image of the prize-winning dookie from my mind’s eye. On returning home that day, I noticed that it was no longer there. Instead, there was a trail of footprints of the poor unfortunates who happened to tread in it. My heart went out to them.

I can actually understand the mentality of the dog owner who doesn’t take the time to clean up after their dog. If it’s late at night and you’re out walking your pooch when there’s no one around, it’s tempting to just leave any doo-doo where it falls and be on your way, whistling and rolling your eyes innocently. However, I can’t understand why a dog owner would leave it there when you can be fined for it and when the health hazards associated with it are well documented.

All dog faeces contain bacteria that can cause an upset tummy if ingested, but the greatest health risk is posed by a nasty little worm called Toxocara canis. It’s a huge source of environmental contamination, and just one gram of dog faeces contains an incredible 15,000 eggs.

Each female worm is capable of laying 700 eggs every day, and they are passed out of the dog when it defecates. The eggs are hardy, and can survive for up to three years in soil. After three weeks or so, the eggs become larvae, and it’s in this state that they become infectious to humans and dogs. They try to make their way through a person’s body as they would a dog’s but they cause more tissue damage in people.

The condition, known as Toxocariasis, comes in two forms: visceral larva migrans (VLM) and the more sinister sounding ocular larva migrans (OLM). With VLM, the worms reach the liver and cause abdominal pain and inflammation. In OLM, the larva reaches the eye and can cause significant damage leading to blindness in severe cases.

Only last month, the Manchester Evening News reported about the case of two year old Aimee Langdon of Fallowfield, who contracted toxocariasis when she touched her eye after falling over in a park. She was treated by doctors at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, but her parents have been told that she is now 75 per cent blind in that eye.

We at Dream Dogs are sure that most dog owners are the conscientious sort who wouldn’t dream of letting their dog foul a pavement without cleaning it up. In fact, dog owners are more likely than ever before to be remonstrated with by members of the public. Granted, scooping after a pooping is not a pleasant job, but it’s your duty as a responsible dog owner.