Tuesday, 8 July 2014

On your own doorstep

The mind boggles as to why dog owners are happy for their community spaces (except of course immediately on their own doorstep, drive or garden) to be littered with dog crap or little black bags of it.

I can understand that clearing up after your pet can be an unpleasant experience, but that is no excuse for ignoring the fact that YOU are making it an unpleasant experience for everyone else who happens upon the mess you leave behind. Surely when you pass there again with your dog you must see what you did, know what you did, and have to avoid stepping in it yourself. You look around whilst your dog squats down to do it again, either because you're embarrassed, want to be ignorant of the fact that your dog is fouling the pavement, park, gardens, play areas, so that you can plead innocence if approached by someone, or you are merely looking around to see that nobody is coming so that you can walk away before getting out a bag to remove it.

Perhaps you do not step in any, never have to scrape it off the wheel of your child's pushchair or bicycle, you've never had a job which involves using a lawn mower or strimmer in public places. Maybe you don't mind that on hot days there are places that stink of turd so bad it makes you gag or that your child is playing in it whilst you're having a picnic.

You are probably also not aware of the amount of toddlers that contract toxocariasis, a disease that causes serious eye damage. Certainly there is no sure way to prove that YOUR dog shite caused this in anyone, but how can you be sure that it hasn't or won't in the future?

There are NO valid excuses for not clearing up after your dog. So do not try to come up with any. We have heard them all before and none of them are valid. There are many many more reasons why you should be clearing up your dog mess and disposing of it responsibly, not only for health and hygiene, moral and legal reasons.

Should you be fined? YES
Should people have the right to ask you to clear it up? YES
Do you have the right to verbally abuse anyone that asks you to clear up? NO
Are you flouting the law by not cleaning up after your dog? YES

Name and shame
I for one will be taking photos or video before during and after any such activity, and send it to the appropriate authority. These will also appear online in the hope of naming and shaming you into acting responsibly, although I suspect it won't but that won't stop me from trying.

I would also advocate fines for any dog owner NOT able to prove they are worming their dog(s) regularly or having with them at all times (when out) at least one bag or a poop scoop.

I recently saw two elderly people whose dog left a runny mess on the pavement, it must have been ill, they had nothing with them to clean it up. Had I not been walking past perhaps they'd have hurried along but instead they fumbled around in pockets, pulling out handkerchiefs and realising they weren't adequate enough. Passing by later I saw that it had been partly scraped away and covered with leaves.

For those of you who still think I am barking up the wrong tree here's some researched information provided by Keep Britain Tidy.

Toxocara in dogs (and cats)

Are there different types of toxocariasis?

There are two types of toxocara. Toxocara T.canis is transmitted from dogs and foxes whilst toxocara T.catis, is transmitted by cats. Both come from the roundworm toxocara.

If the fox is also a carrier, surely you can’t blame dogs for toxocariasis

The fox is considered to be a significant host for T. canis in the UK and, therefore, the presence of foxes needs to be taken into account when control of toxocariasis is being considered. However, foxes will not defecate in open spaces, and the debate that states that toxocariasis in humans is as much due to foxes as dogs is misleading. It is believed that the majority of infections arise from parks and play areas where foxes would not defecate.

How many parks are infected with toxocara eggs?

Random soil sampling shows that the majority of the parks in the UK are contaminated with toxocara eggs in various stages of development.

If parks are disinfected would that eradicate toxocara?

Toxocara eggs are resistant to freezing and disinfectants and can survive for two years or more.

Are all dogs infected?

It is reasonable to assume that all puppies are infected with toxocara T. canis and produce larger numbers of eggs than an adult dog. However, the prevalence of toxocara diminishes as the dog grows older.

Is it dangerous for me to clear up after my dog? Won’t I get toxocariasis?

Toxocara eggs are not infectious until they embryonate. This is usually at least 2 – 3 weeks after they have been deposited by a dog. Therefore freshly deposited faeces is not infectious, and you can safely clear up after your dog.

Are there many eggs in dog mess?

A single dog mess can contain approximately 1 million microscopic eggs.

Toxocariasis in humans

What are the symptoms of toxocariasis?

Eye disorders are the most commonly reported complaint associated with toxocariasis. This is by the transportation of larvae via the retinal artery to the eye, potentially causing blindness through the growth of non-malignant tumours or the development of detached retinas. The reporting of eye disorders in relation to toxocariasis may be due to the public and the medical profession being aware of the link. As the links to flu-like symptoms are not so obvious, it is very likely that a huge number of toxocariasis cases go unreported and unrecognised by either the public or by doctors. Other symptoms are vague aches, dizziness and nausea, asthma and epileptic fits.

How many people suffer eye damage from toxocariasis?

In a report by Dr S. Gillespie, (November 1993), he noted approximately 100 cases diagnosed each year, with 50 having serious eye damage. Nearly all were children, who had contracted the disease as toddlers.

Are there any useful treatments or is there a cure?


How do you contract the disease?

Human infection of this disease is a direct consequence of soil or sand contamination with faeces carrying eggs of the parasite. As the parasite can last up to two years, contaminated soil and sand is often the carrier as the faeces degrade. The parasite can only infect humans if swallowed. Once swallowed the infection can last between six and 24 months. Frequently the infection is through hands, but also with the dogs themselves or through inanimate objects such as wheels of toys, soles of shoes, etc. Therefore the prevalence of the toxocariasis is dominant in children between 18 months and five years.

Where are toxocara eggs most likely to be found?

Many infected soil samples are found in the vicinity of children’s play areas, even though dogs are often banned from these areas. Other samples are found on streets. In the UK, about half of the most serious cases of toxocariasis, such as blindness, occur in families who have never owned a dog or a cat.

If I had toxocariasis, how big would the worms be?

The average size of the toxocara worm is between 2cm to 10cm long; although the worms tend to coil when expelled.

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