Saturday 20 December 2014

Great idea to clean up our streets, but I smell trouble ahead

Published 26/11/2013 | 22:28

PLANS to encourage people to shop the owners of dogs fouling pavements are a great idea -- but a recent experience convinces me that it won't work.

It also suggests that councils will need to educate would-be snoopers on how exactly a man's best friend does the business, and the differences between male and female dogs.

I was recently minding my own business as our Scottish highland terrier did a pee on a patch of grass. I was awoken from an early morning daydream after a passer-by began taking photographs of the two us.

It was my first paparazzi moment and I must admit I couldn't work out what was going on until the rather dapper stranger, dressed improbably in a blue Barbour jacket and cravat, began jumping up and down and crowing about his plans to send the snaps to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

I'm afraid that a rather heated exchange followed. While I am scrupulous about scooping up every turd produced by our terrier, I draw the line at puddles of pee.

So, unluckily for the makers of dog nappies, does the law. We must only scoop what can be scooped.

I have no idea whether this man has actually sent the pictures to some poor official at Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, and I don't really care, but I suspect the images could well have painted me in a bad light.

A male dog usually cocks his leg when he passes water so it is relatively easy to determine from a safe distance whether the dog's master is breaking the law by not picking anything up afterwards. It is rather more difficult with a bitch, where the techniques for expelling food and drink is relatively similar, and involve crouching close to the ground.

This difference in dog physiology is where the admirable plans of councils to prosecute dog owners is going to fall down.

The nation's district courts are already jammed to bursting with all sorts of cases which waste enormous resources. Most reporters have already wasted weeks of their lives listening to defendants argue that they were not over the limit, driving too fast or breaching the peace.

How much more time will be wasted as judges, armed with magnifying glasses, pore over blurred pictures of animals crouched behind bushes?

The law, we are often told, is an ass but should it really spend any more time looking at pictures of a dog's ass?

Irish Independent

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