in Shaftesbury

Nudge and… dog turds

There’s something about being a councillor and dog poo.

You can’t just blame it on irresponsible and inconsiderate dog-owners and move, carefully, on. Instead, it provokes thought and even, dare I say, analysis. Being a councillor isn’t the only frame of reference for me – yesterday I couldn’t help but reflect I’d discovered the least-joyous part of fatherhood as I cleaned the push-chair wheels of the left-overs from a dog that was probably the size of a Shetland pony – but I can’t imagine any other reason I would be prompted to write a blog post from my reflections on dog excrement.

But as soon as spotted this on Forthbridge Road I was taking a photo and knew it would end up on here.

What is interesting is not so much the resident’s frustration (they should try the Shaftesbury Estate) but the effect it will have on the dog-owner. A council in the south of England tried colourfully marking the locations of dog-fouling. The result was a dramatic decrease in the level of dog-fouling; the markings created a feeling of guilt and fear of being watched among irresponsible dog-owners.

It’s Nudge at work. I’ve noticed a reverse effect around a tree near my house, it is a cherry blossom (I believe, but my arboricultural knowledge pretty much ends at differentiating trees from shrubs) attracts lots of birds which do a fantastic job at plastering the pavement underneath with their droppings. The result is a tree that attracts most of the road’s dog fouling too, it seems the bird droppings make other animal fouling more acceptable.

It’s a perennial problem. I often get complaints about it and noticed a report from the Shaftesbury Park Estate on Fix My Street last week. Unfortunately the real solution lies in dog owners acting responsibly and being able to find and prosecute those who do not. While approaches like that taken on Forthbridge Road might work (and I’m not so far beyond redemption that I’m monitoring it) by far the best answer is for all owners to clean up after their dogs.

[It’s taken me nearly 13 years to do my first dog poo photo. I just hope it isn’t a slippery slope because it doesn’t look good at the bottom.]

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