Dog fouling has long been a problem highlighted by councils nationwide, but one council has decided upon a novel way to resolve the issue.
Shetland Islands Council has recruited ‘poo spotter’ volunteers who will be patrolling the islands. However, when they find these unwelcome deposits, the volunteers will not be cleaning it up but instead they will be armed with cans of pink dye to spray paint the poo pink.
The theory, if you want to call it that – hair-brained idea may be more appropriate in some eyes – is to ‘highlight’ the problem, literally. They reckon this will shame the few remaining irresponsible dog owners into cleaning up.
The council has tried the usual on-the-spot £50 penalties and last year tried novel ideas such as handing out entries to prize draws for those responsible dog owners who did clean up after their puppies or dogs.
The person reportedly responsible for this idea is the environmental health manager for the council Maggie Dunne who told the Scotsman’s newspaper:
“Shetland is very clean and our streets are generally kept clean. But the issue that we get most complaints about is dog fouling, because it is so unpleasant.
“Last year we ran a proactive reward scheme for people who clean up after their dogs. We handed out little stickers to people saying well done for cleaning up and gave them the chance to enter into a draw where compost bins, recycling bins and environmentally friendly bags were the prizes…
“..I think that highlighting the problem with pink dye will raise the profile of dog fouling with other dog walkers and perhaps help apply peer pressure to get those last few dog owners to fall in line.
“Hopefully they will feel embarrassed when they see what is being left behind. I picked pink because it would stand out, and it will make it a bit more fun. And she stressed:
“We are not going to leave the pink poo in place and will be working with our colleagues in cleansing to ensure it is cleaned up.”
So there you have it. The poo is being coloured pink because that is a bit more fun and it will be cleaned up later when all are embarrassed by it. If it is fun, why would you be embarrassed and when exactly will it be cleaned up?
Perhaps I am being cynical. Apparently, Cheltenham have a similar, albeit less fun, approach. They spray a circle round dog mess. One week later if it is still there they add a yellow circle in addition round the first one. If two weeks later it is still there they clean it away. Their council say it does work and in fact the amount of dog deposits left has declined.
Personally, I tend to think hit them in the pocket. A bit of pink dye is unlikely to deter irresponsible dog owners and the only bit of fun will be when they look round at all the piles of pink mess that they’ve allowed their dog to leave behind and have a little chuckle to themselves. This is a great publicity stunt, but it would be better to have volunteers slapping people with on the spot penalties of more than £50.