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Cleaning up after your dog

shadiasimpson, [email protected]

Cleaning up after your dog

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DOG STOOL on our beaches is creating a major problem, as is evident from animal control officer Curtis Thompson’s recent dire warning about the health hazard on some of our beaches.  
This public servant was unequivocal  when he said “animals, from a public health standpoint, can wreak havoc on a tourism destination like this”.
 The message is clear that we must do something to rectify what is certainly a national challenge. Unfortunately, it is not only the dogs but horses as well that create a mess on our beaches.
While the issue of the animal waste on our beaches is bad, the situation is even worse on many of our roads, the verges and even the lawns of private households where the residents have no dogs of their own.
 There is no doubt that Barbadians are becoming increasingly attached to their dogs and will now ensure that they get their vaccinations. We have our dogs compete in various all-breed shows and we like to take them out driving and also walking for an exercise. Our passion for dogs ranges from the small pets to those known as good guard animals.
Unfortunately, the love for the dogs is a selfish exercise. We take them to the beach or exercise them on our roads and do not care about the individual following and using the same public space. So there is no cleaning up after our dogs, regardless of who suffers, whether  relaxing on the beach or even walking to work or school and becoming an unsuspecting victim of lying on or stepping on the dog faeces.
Indeed, Mr Thompson has indicated that the Scoop the Poop programme is all but a failure, and to underscore that the existing rules and regulations have no bite, we need only consider that no one has ever been prosecuted.
For those dog owners who must take their pets on a morning or evening stroll  in any public area remember that when you do not clean up after your animal you are not only creating an unsanitary situation but a health hazard.
The faeces can carry the round worm, whipworm or tapeworm and unvaccinated dogs are vulnerable to the deadly parovirus. For a society already fighting  to control leptospirosis, the dog poop left around is a real attraction for rats and other rodents which find it a good source of food.
There needs to be a major public education programme to encourage dog owners to walk with bags to clean up after their pets and to consider others who will use the same areas after them.
But we will need laws which have meaningful penalties and which are strictly enforced. We must be concerned about the health of both nationals and visitors alike.