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There is no poop fairy - pick up after your dog!

Most of the dog owners I know will meticulously clean after their dogs, even when nobody can see them on the most remote part of the beach. Unfortunately, as the saying goes -  all it takes is one (or few) rotten apple to spoil  the whole barrel. 

It seems that lately,  Sliema promenade and beaches have been under increased attack of  autistic  dog owners who inflict not only a great damage to the reputation of dogs and their owners in general but also present public health threat. 

Although the fines help,  it looks like they do little to solve the problem  and in my opinion the best way to tackle this problem is to widely educate dog owners about the immense impact of dogs'  excrement on our fragile enivronment in one of the most densly populated places on the planet. I sincerely hope local councils  will come up with more proactive approach to this issue in near future. For a start I suggest more bilboards like the one on the photo.

Here are 10 most important reasons why it is absolutely unacceptable not to clean up after your dog:

1. It's the law. Just like littering, it’s unlawful NOT to pick up after your dog, and maybe subject to a fine, so please do the right thing.

2. It's common courtesy. Cleaning up after your dogs shows respect for our neighbours' and your community. Only irresponsible dog owners leave their dog’s poop for others to look at, step in or clean up.

3. Dog Poop is unhealthy. Abandoned dog poop can host diseases and/or parasites which can infect other dogs that come into contact with it, or be transmitted to people who accidentally step in it and track it home. Particularly at risk, of course, are children who play on the ground. Disposing of dog poop immediately helps all dogs stay healthier and reduces faeces-borne parasites and illnesses. If your dog has diarrhoea, and you cannot clean it up, you should not allow your dog to defecate in places where other dogs or children may come in contact with it. If your dog has prolonged diarrhea (more than two days) you should seek vet assistance.

4. Dog Poop bio-degrades slowly. Some people think it’s okay to leave dog poop because it will break down naturally. However, the process is very slow, and especially in places where the dog population is high, abandoned dog poop can accumulate faster than it breaks down.

5. It's not fertilizer! In fact, poop impedes landscaping efforts. Leaving dog poop encourages other dogs to mark that spot (by urinating over the previous dog’s scent) therefore poop left on the grass contributes to the problem of “nitrogen burn.”

6. Dog Poop pollutes the water.  Dog faeces, like any faeces, contain high levels of nutrients which actually pollute the water, like for example - large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus. These nutrients feed and stimulate the growth of algae in water bodies. This can cause the water body to become depleted in oxygen, making it less healthy for fish and large levels of growth can impede recreational and aesthetic value of water as well.  Cleaning up after your dog is environmentally responsible. And please do not dispose of dog poop in storm drains: storm drains are a direct conduit to our beaches.

7. Dog Poop is unsightly. Everybody knows that. It’s disgusting. Pick it up. We all deserve to live in a clean environment of which we can be proud.

8. Dog Poop tops the list of complaints against dogs. Along with dog aggression, nuisance barking or unsupervised dogs, most complaints against dogs are about people not cleaning up after their dogs.

9. Dog Poop makes dog owners look bad. For everyone who cares about their pets, the worst thing about dog poop is that it is bad for public relations. Dog Poop is a big reason for negative public sentiment against dogs. Every time you don’t pick up after your dog, you are giving one more reason for others to dislike dogs and dog owners.

10. Your actions set an example for others. When you pick up after your dog, you are part of the solution! And your actions will help convey the message that it’s the right thing to do. Many people even carry extra bags to offer to others as a subtle and neighbourly hint that cleaning up after our dogs is what responsible dog owners do.

More and more people are taking it upon themselves to pick up “orphan poop.” These people are truly ambassadors. You can set a good example, too. If you see orphan poop, pick it up with one of those extra bags you are carrying. Your actions will encourage others to do the same!

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