It’s a widespread problem across the globe. Cities are increasing the number of pet waste stations and raising fines, but it is still a growing issue. Let’s take a look at a few desperate places that came up with some…creative… ways to aid the situation and strongly pushing people to pick up after their dog.
10 Bizarre Campaigns Encouraging People to Scoop that Poop!
1. Poop DNA
An increasingly popular campaign that is quickly becoming an international success uses an advanced technology to help identity irresponsible pet owners without even catching them in the act. Utilizing similar technology used for determining the breed of a dog, the company Poo Prints (originally devised by BioPet Vet Lab in Knoxville, Tennessee) has developed a method for identifying the dog’s identity through the poop that he leaves behind. Benefit? You find the dog, you find the owner, and can then hold the owner accountable for not picking up.
Poo Prints originally launched in 2010, and now has collected over 30,000 DNA samples, and works with over 1,000 properties in various locations including Canada, much of the U.S., and just recently – Great Britain.
So how do they collect the samples?
The way to obtain the DNA from a dog is through a non-intrusive method of swabbing the inside of the dog’s cheeks. The tricky part is convincing the dog owner to allow their dog’s DNA to be taken and therefore putting themselves at risked of being fined. As it turns out, many property managers that run apartment complexes will now require that the tenant’s dog be registered within the city and have their DNA submitted. Although this only addresses a percentage of the population and does not include homeowners, it certainly has shown its effectiveness thus far. Poo Prints claims that property managers have reported an immediate reduction in left out dog poop to nearly 100%.
An apartment complex in New York City known as Brooklyn Bridge Park started using Poo Prints in recent years and has seen very promising results. The complex is actually known for being one of the most dog-friendly buildings in the city, with typically houses 175 dogs throughout the 440 units, and provides additional dog services on the ground floor. I guess you can say the property owners really love dogs, although not so much the dog poop. The owners say it has been an increasing problem over the years, and often find doggie droppings in elevators, hallways and stairwells, it even gets worse in the winter when the dogs are let out even less. They tried placing signs everywhere, but nothing worked – that is until they discovered Poo Prints. After signing up with the company’s program, they already captured at least 7 offenders, but more importantly the amount of poo they see has significantly decreased from just the fear of being caught.
An east London council has recently signed on as well and plans to introduce the technology across the city in April 2016. Their plan is to require all registered dogs to submit their DNA and will be able to do so at their local veterinarian. The town hall explains that they currently spend upwards of £2.3 million each year funding cleaning efforts for dog feces alone and this can be the answer in saving them a lot of money.
But of course, with it being such a big step, dog owners a weary. One concern is being wrongly accused when innocent. All someone would have to do is take your bagged poop out of the trash and empty it onto the ground and your good deed has been turned into a costly violation. Sadly, there really wouldn’t be a way of arguing yourself out of it. Another point being made is that it violates ‘canine privacy’ because dogs cannot sign forms, and well, consent to anything really – This may be a weaker argument as dogs don’t give consent on receiving vaccines and being neutered either.
DNA testing may seem like an extreme push, but perhaps something extreme needs to happen to address this constant problem.
2. Spray Painting Dog Poop Orange
In 2015, in the town of Corvallis, Oregon, a group of like-minded people came together to get an important message across to the locals. Initially started by Oregon State University College of Forestry, and quickly joined by several town veterinarians, the “Orange Poo” campaign set out to educate the public on exactly how much waste is not being picked up in the area, and what negative effects this is having on the environment. Their first target – McDonald Forest trails, a common place for hiking and dog walking.
For the campaign, volunteers went around marking the poo piles with bright orange spray paint, giving a clear visual to illustrate the hundreds of droppings they had uncovered. Previously, dog waste would be an easy thing to ignore as the poop tends to blend in with the dirt on the ground and can get buried under leaves during the fall, but now those that are strolling along the trail will be unable to look away from the horrifying truth that indeed the poop is almost everywhere.
Many might see this as an overreaction to just some stinkies that belong in nature, but the university is worried about the waste harming the forest and nearby waters, finding similar sightings in Oak Creek, Peavy Arboretum, Lewisburg Saddle and Calloway Creek trail. Many pedestrians told the volunteers that they don’t understand the problem and see the dog poop as a great source for fertilizer. Sadly this is far from the truth. Because a dog’s diet is made up of mostly animal products, their waste ends up being full of bacteria, nearly double the amount of cow manure. Not only can it be a hazard to human health, but any plants that become contaminated by it. Dog waste needs to be properly composted in a offsite secure area before being considered any type of fertilizer.
A veterinarian educates the public
One of the volunteers, veterinarian Sharon Forster-Blouin, responded to those opposed with, “I’m trying to keep you and your dog from getting horrible viruses and keeping it from contaminating the waterway.” Forster Blouin further explains that “It is not natural for there to be this much poop in one small area along our creeks and our forests”, and that the dozens of types are parasites the waste can contain can quickly pollute our waters and cause severe ecological problems. Her along with many others believe more people would pick up if they only knew the severity of the situation. She continues to volunteer even after the campaign ended, and reports collecting around 80lb of poop each month within just a half mile path of the trail.
3. Fining Those Without a Bag
It’s common for a city to enforce laws that fine dog owners for not picking up after their dog. But many question how effective these laws really are as its quite rare to spot a police officer writing up a ticket on a sidewalk to a person walking their dog – main reason being it is nearly impossible for an officer to drive by at the right time when the nature is calling the canine.
Well that’s what the Daventry District in the U.K. decided to do by enforcing a new law that can fine dog walkers for simply not having a bag on them. Although it is uncommon for society to accuse someone of a crime that hasn’t happened yet, in this case, it is clear the bagless owner has no intention of picking up after their dog has done the dirty deed. As of December 1st, 2015 a , a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) will be in full effect, making those without proper poop receptacles on hand at risk of a £100 fine and potential prosecution.
There is doubt that officers will be seen going up to every dog owner they see, asking them to produce a poopie bag, but the fact is that they can, and won’t have to wait around for your dog to defecate. Seems extreme? In actuality a major reason why people do not pick up after their dog is simply because they forgot to bring bags along for the walk. Perhaps this will serve as a good reminder every time they go out.
4. The Turdinator
From the title, you may think that a robot was sent back from the future to hunt down those that don’t pick up their dog’s poo… well not really, it’s actually just a man hiding in the bushes.
We all know that setting up a Community Watch can be a great way to encourage neighbors to look out for each other and report any potential crimes to the police. But should a Community Watch start spying on dog walkers? An interesting man by the name of Andrew Hawes lives in Suffolk, England, living a double-life as the “Turdinator”. When not at work, the Turdinator takes over, wearing camouflage and hiding in the bushes of his neighborhood. His mission? Spotting someone in the act of leaving their dog’s mess behind.
What happens once he spots a ‘target’?
Once someone is seen abandoning a poo, Hawes quickly jumps out from the bushes as a sort of caught you! moment. Without hesitation, he will explain, “Please clean up after your dog. You’re being filmed, if you clean up, the film will be deleted straight away—if not, you’ll be posted on my Facebook page for people to identify and then you’ll be reported to the police.”
Not so surprisingly, no other person has joined him in his efforts, but Andrew doesn’t seem to mind. While there is a divide in opinions on his actions, he knows his intentions are good and figures “If I have to go to court to explain my actions, if it’s saving a child from getting dog mess in their eye and going blind through disease, so be it.”
5. Pet Restrooms
Located in China, a town called Fengpuyuan, within the Fengxian District, has installed brand new public restrooms, but not for humans – this time for pets. The simple setup is a four-square-meter ground with sand over sieves and wooden fences. Even though the public relations official, Zhu Qing, claims the restrooms are lessening the amount of waste pollution, local residents are not so sure.
A Previous Attempt
Back in 2012, a similar idea came into fruition in the Jiading District. Forty pet restrooms were built with wooden plates and sand. But soon after, they found that once one dog marked the spot, no other dog wanted to go near it. The restrooms were quickly removed only after one month.
Despite the low probability of success, Fengpuyuan decided to go for it anyway as dog poop has been such a major problem in their streets. This way, in theory, all the waste will be in one location and willing volunteers could easily pick it up on a regular basis.
Potential Problems with New System
- There is a higher risk of spreading disease when dogs are relieving themselves in the same location.
- If a dog does not approve of the location, he will simply hold it in
- This system does not teach people about the dangerous pollutants in dog waste, and only focuses on moving it out of sight
China is the first country to be embarking on this concept. Eight pet restrooms were initially built in 2013, and 1,000 more are planned to be constructed in the near future. But much doubt still exists as to whether this will catch on.
Delta’s Version of the Pet Restroom
A similar concept but perhaps more practical system was implemented near the Delta terminal at Detroit’s airport. Now any Delta passengers traveling with service animals can bring their dog to this specialized pet potty rather than forcing the passenger to go back and forth through security in order for their dog to seek relief.
This more advanced construct is made up of patches of grass and a sprinkler system, connected to the same sanitation system that are used by the human restrooms. Once the dog has done his thing, the human can push a button to activate the sprinklers, rinsing the waste to the drains hidden below (bags are also available for solid waste). The installation cost about $75,000 – although expensive, it seems to serve its purpose very well in a safe and responsible manner.
6. Shock Factor
Bristol City Council created a controversial poster in an effort to “shock dog owner’s into action.” Similar to how anti-smoking ads show lung cancer patients, the image shows the devastating effects that left out dog poop can have.
The poster we are talking about? An image of a toddler eating dog poop. Now of course they didn’t actually ask a child to eat dog poop for the picture, and it is assumed it is really chocolate or something of similar effect, but the visual is still highly disturbing.
The poster also contains the tagline, “Children will put anything in their mouths”. This may be convincing some, but the question is, “Is this fair to subject already responsible dog owners to such a graphic image?”
Suggestion for an alternative photo?
This is certainly not an image you would want to see appear on billboards and in magazines, as someone might lose their lunch – but perhaps a more acceptable, and still powerful image can be of one Amiee Langdon, a two year old girl who lost most of her sight in her left eye after slipping into a pile of dog poo while at a children’s park. She has already inspired organizations like Keep Britain Tidy to build a strong campaign entitled “There’s no such thing as the Dog Poo Fairy” to encourage dog owners to bag it and trash it.
We’re not quite at the point of converting dog poop to fuel electricity (several organizations are working on it), this mexican town found another way.
In Mexico City, an internet company, Terra, has teamed up with an ad agency, DDB Mexico, to develop a way to encourage dog owners to scoop up the poop by giving away free wifi.
How does it work?
The company set up devices in ten parks across the city that can actually weigh the amount of waste that is placed inside the attached bin. The heavier the weight, the more minutes of free wifi is given out to that area. It is a great concept, relatively low in cost, and shows that a strong campaign can actually reward pet owners for being responsible rather than punishing those who don’t pick up.
The one downside to the new invention is that the bin cannot detect whether the waste originated from a dog, or if it’s just general trash. A small flaw considering encouraging people to throw away garbage is not necessarily a bad thing.
It has in a way brought a stronger unity to the community as the people are now helping keep their parks clean in order to accomplish a common goal. Who knew dog poop could bring society closer together?
8. Special Delivery (of poop)
In Brunete, Spain, dog poop has been taking over the streets and causing great concern for the small town. After attempting an increase in pickup signs and raising fines, the new town’s mayor, Borja Gutiérrez, came up with a different idea. His motto: “It’s your dog, it’s your dog poop,We are just returning it to you.” That’s right, whatever unfortunate dog owner does not pick up after their dog will be receiving an unexpected package when they get home.
How does it work?
Volunteers are hired to roam the streets at certain times of the day. If and when they do spot a lazy dog walker, their plan is put into place. The volunteer will nonchalantly walk up to the dog owner disguised as a harmless passerby. The volunteer brings up a conversation with the person, eventually obtaining the dog’s name and breed. After the brief interaction has ended and the walker leaves, the volunteer bags the poop and brings it along with him. Since all dogs are required to be registered with the town, the volunteer can relay that information to the proper authorities who can then determine the owner’s name and address. Voila! The dog poop is boxed up, labeled “Lost and Found”, and mailed back to the original owner.
This may seem a bit crazy, but quite successful, according to Mayor Gutiérrez. The campaign only lasted two weeks, with a handful of people receiving a package, but long afterwards, an overall 70% decrease in waste was being left out. More and more residents are using plastic bags to pick up, which was almost unheard of across the entire country of Spain just a few months back.
New York City has always been combating the dog poop issue, but residents in Fort Greene, Brooklyn are taking serious action. The fine for that area is already $250 for leaving poop on the ground, but it never seems to be enforced. A local block association decided to start a “Wall of Shame” campaign, which unlike the other campaigns, mainly takes placed on the internet.
Local residents are asked to take photos of dog walking offenders and post them on Facebook. The association’s president, Abby Weissman, has gone as far as setting up a webcam outside his house to catch any poop-leavers in the act. Shortly afterwards, a video was uploaded showing a woman’s dog going number two, and then walking away, completely uninterested in picking up the two.
Although capturing footage of someone in the act is rare, a lot of comments can be seen on the facebook page, supporting the association and discussing the problems with lingering dog waste. Some residents think the use of aggressive soil media to shame others might be too negative, and that there could be other ways to encourage people to pick up.
10. Trade Poo for a Lottery Ticket
In Taiwan’s New Taipei City, an unusual campaign was launched encouraging dog owners to take their bagged doggie droppings to the authorities in order to receive a lottery ticket. The prize? A gold ingot worth £1,400 (about $2,200). Even those that were not dog owners could enter by finding abandoned poo’s on the ground to collect.
I hope that poop from a dog was the only kind they were collecting. If you think about it, there are ways to cheat.
The End Result?
Many people ended up entering – approximately 4,000 people provided a total of 14,500 bags of excrement. One winner claimed the gold, along with 84 others that won smaller prizes.
Sounds like a clever idea, right? Despite the overall success of the project, the city soon ran out of money and had to discontinue any poop lotteries for the near future. Nevertheless, it’s commendable to see another example of rewarding those who took responsibility and avoiding placing any negative actions towards the community.
Whatever the next dog poop campaign is, the important thing is that it educates the public, rewards those that scoop up, and makes it as easy and convenient as possible for people to properly dispose of the waste. Sometimes we need to get a little weird and think outside the box to get our message across. Think any of these bizarre campaigns would work well in your city?