It's not just Americans who are waging the war on pet feces in parks, trails and other public spaces. A cursory Internet search reveals rants and signage in several languages pleading with the public to please clean up after pets.
The same issue was true for Brunete, Spain, a middle-class suburb of Madrid. Some cities have resorted to handing out steep fines, but with the difficulties in the economy, the Brunete mayor had another solution: make a special delivery of the offending debris back to the owner.
The mayor of Madrid wanted to know how Mayor Borja Gutiérrez planned to get away with such a plan, saying, "[There are] not many mayors who think sending dog poop to voters is a good idea." Mayor Gutiérrez shrugs and replies that, after two years in office and visiting with over 220 citizens in their homes, the recurring complaint he received was dog owners not picking up after their pets.
So a campaign of "direct marketing" ensued. Volunteers would watch for dog owners who wouldn't do their civic doody duty, and would then approach the dog to pet him or her. They'd ask questions about the breed and about the pet's name, which was enough to get an address through the City Hall pet registration system.
Then the offending dog owners would get packages bearing the official seal of the town and the message, "lost and found" in a matter of hours.
Apparently, the "special delivery" message is working because the messes are fewer and folks can be seen walking around the parks with baggies in hand, and are much more vigilant in watching their pets.
This was an improvement over the first campaign which involved a remote-controlled plastic replica of dog feces that would bump into shoes and garner a few laughs. With the silly remote controlled poop, the messes improved for a while, but people went back to their slovenly ways all too soon, which is why the more aggressive mail campaign ensued.
Mayor Gutierrez is working on other ideas for next year should the current campaign stop working but won't yet discuss them.
For more information, visit the New York Times.
How does your community deal with pet owners who don't clean up after their dogs?
Photo courtesy of Rupert Ganzer.