What Poo-blem? These Cities are Tackling Dog Fouling Worldwide

A surge in dog ownership during the pandemic has left the world with a poo-shaped problem, but cities around the world are fighting back to fix the lack of poo-pick up on our streets.

Picking up your dog’s poo is never a fun job, especially if you’ve forgotten to bring your poo bags out with you! But leaving it just isn’t okay, no matter where it is.

How much could leaving our dog’s poo behind end up costing us in fines? 

We’ve taken a look at the most dog-friendly cities in the U.K, the U.S and Europe to see what rules and regulations they have in place for dogs in public spaces, and who’s handling the problem of smelly streets the best!

We marked each city across eight factors, scoring each out of 10, to give a combined score of 80. 

  1. How many dogs per city /10
  2. Do they have enforced dog fouling fines /10
  3. How easy it is to report dog fouling /10 
  4. How much is a fine for dog fouling? /10
  5. Number of parks /10
  6. Number of dogs per park /10 
  7. The estimated amount of dog poo per day /10
  8. If they have any additional dog walking rules in place /10

From these eight factors, we have ranked each city out of 80. So the higher the score ranking out of 80 means the more the city is doing to tackle dog fouling, which in turn means less poo being left in the streets.


These Cities Are The Most Focused On Tackling Dog Poo In The United Kingdom

Earlier this year, it was reported that the U.K was suffering a ‘dog poo plague’ due to the Coronavirus pandemic leading to a huge rise in dog ownership as more of us stayed at home to stay safe. So, how are cities tackling the problem of poo on the city streets?

The North seemingly reigned supreme in the U.K, with Newcastle topping the scoreboard with 68 out of 80 and Manchester following in close second with 66 out of 80. 

Newcastle scored 6 out of 10 possible points for it’s low dog to park ratio. In the city, 4260 dog would share each green spare, which is 26% lower than the UK average. Newcastle also has one of the smallest dog populations overall (140,584 which is 77% less than the UK average) which in turn, means less poop produced each day. 

London, despite having the most dogs in their city (over 4 million!) placed in fifth place, partly due to having plenty of parks and green space for them to share – however these four million dogs produce plenty of poop, we calculated that it’s over 1 million KG of dog poop a day – that’s the same weight as 600 cars! Whilst Scottish city Glasgow placed last – scoring only 37 out of 80.  

England criminalised dog fouling in 1996 through the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act, while Scotland followed considerably later in 2003 with the Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act, could this delay in introducing legislation compared to their English neighbours explain why Scottish capital Glasgow found itself at the bottom of our scoreboard?

In both countries, you could be fined £80 (or more) for not scooping your poo – with each city providing an easy-to-fill online form, to report any instances of dog fouling. This means that in a huge city, such as London, if every dog did a poo that wasn’t picked up – the owners could be fined a combined £341,393,280.

Bristol came pretty low on the scoreboard, scoring 50 out of 80 points – despite having the same number of parks as top-scorers Newcastle. Bristol’s dog population is considerably higher at an estimated 219,296. We can tell you, however, Bristol has 372 bins around the city, specifically for dog waste and 997 bins that can be used for both dog and general waste – making it much easier to dispose of the poo.

The U.K is a little more lenient when it comes to additional rules on dog walking, but that doesn’t mean some cities haven’t taken matters into their own hands. Newcastle introduced a ‘6 dogs maximum’ rule in some areas of the city, whilst in Nottingham, you can be fined up to £70 for not carrying poo bags with you on your daily walk. 

Dog-friendly travel and sustainability journalist Sadie Geoghegan-Dann spoke on the importance of picking up after your dog; 

Not only is dog mess unsightly, smelly and a nightmare when trodden in, but it’s actually a lot worse for the environment than people realise. It’s full of nasty bacteria and parasites that can be harmful to local wildlife and it can easily affect nearby water supplies as well. 

“Picking up the mess but leaving it behind in a plastic poo bag is just as detrimental for animals and the wider environment too. 

“Cleaning up after your four-legged friend is part and parcel of being a responsible dog owner, so take some pride in your surroundings and stop giving other more considerate dog owners a bad name.”


Europe’s Top Picker-Uppers 

Naples placed top for Europe, scoring 56 out of 80 – You’ll find an estimated 112,623 dogs in the city- one of the lowest out of all the locations we looked at, and 36 parks. One of the biggest contributing factors, however, was the pretty hefty €500 fine you could receive for leaving your dogs poo behind on the streets. 

Talking of hefty fines, you might want to think twice about turning that blind eye to your dog doing their business if you’re in Spain – as both Barcelona and Madrid have fines of up to €1,500. Some areas in Spain are also going even further, testing the DNA of poop left on the streets, to track and trace the offending owners. 

Vienna found itself at the bottom of the scoreboard, scoring 42 out of 80 – despite having the most parks behind Krakow and Barcelona, it also had the most dogs – at an estimated total of  641,000 dogs, which can equate to over 9,000 dogs per park, and 166,660 kg of dog poo in the city per day. 

Even aside from expensive fines, many European cities have rules and regulations in place in regards to dog walking. Locations such as Vienna and Krakow state that dogs should be muzzled in National Parks or heavily populated areas, whilst Barcelona has rules around when dogs are and aren’t allowed on beaches, depending on the time of year. 


Who’s Scooping The Poop In The United States?

Seattle found itself in the top spot for the United States – scoring 65 out of 80, with a $54 fine for not picking up your dog poop and finding itself as the only city on our list with an easily accessible online form to report any instances of dog fouling. 

California however, seems to be a little more lenient – with both Cali cities on the list; San Francisco and San Diego placing in the bottom two spots. San Diego only scored 30 out of 80, with the city having one of the biggest dog populations being a significant contributing factor to its low score, the city does however have rules in place that say you can’t walk more than 4 dogs at a time (Unless you’re a licensed dog walker, then it’s eight).

Falling almost mid-table was Chicago, which has the largest population of dogs, and most parks out of all 10 cities we looked at in the U.S. With 614 parks, and an estimated 1,706,926 dogs – that equates to 2,780 dogs per park, and around 443,801 kg of dog poop per day.


But Why Do I Need To Pick Up My Dog’s Poop?

Picking up after your dog not only protects the water supply, but also yourself and others around you. By bagging up your dog’s poop, you’re protecting the environment from the nitrogen in your dog’s waste, a chemical that depletes oxygen in the water system. 

Dog poo can also carry harmful bacteria that could cause serious illness in yourself and others – notably, Toxocariasis. Toxocariasis is caused by roundworm parasites that can be found in soil or sand that have been contaminated with infected faeces.


How Does Dog Poop Affect Our Carbon Paw-print?

You could say dogs have their own ‘Carbon Pawprints’ and despite being totally unavoidable (if your dogs got to go, they’ve got to go!) – dog poo can leave a mark. As of 2019, the U.K had an estimated nine million dogs, we estimated that this can  equate to almost 50,000 tons of methane gas emissions every year which could power 227,053 homes for a whole year!

Europe has an estimated 85.5 million dogs, which equates to 468,113 tons of methane emissions, whilst the U.S has 90 million – creating 492,750 tons of gas. 

This doesn’t mean we can’t help the environment whilst also helping our pets in other ways though, a great starting point is their food. 

Packaging is a huge issue when it comes to the environmental impacts of our pets – and it’s difficult to find dog food that isn’t in plastic packaging (this is mainly due to how heavy dog food can be and the keeping the ingredients fresh), so instead bulk buy and don’t overfeed. Bulk-buying your pet’s food, whilst only feeding your dog the recommended amount results in less packaging used and purchases made less often – 85% of our packaging is already recyclable by weight. 

You can also look into making your own dog treats at home, DIY style

What about when we’re picking up our dog’s poop? The last thing we want to do is scoop it with our bare hands. 

An ever-increasing number of authorities are bringing in rules that way carrying dog poo disposal equipment is a legal requirement – many people are turning to biodegradable poo bags.

Biodegradable bags, if disposed of properly in the correct bin or compost heap, can decompose in three to six months, whilst regular plastic bags could take hundreds of years. 

If your dog also goes to the toilet in the back garden, you can also compost your dog’s poop! Composting should get rid of any harmful parasites or bacteria in your dog’s waste, however, you should still avoid using the compost as a vegetable fertiliser, just in case and instead stick to using it for grass, shrubs and flowers. 


No matter the dog rules in your area, it’s always encouraged to only let your dog roam free if they have good recall. Got a puppy in lockdown? Take a look at a few helpful puppy training tips!


Ruff Guide To Spotting Problems In Your Dog’s Poop 

Our dog’s poop can tell us a lot, including if there’s something wrong – we also spoke to our head vet Sean McCormack to find out what signs to look out for when you’re scooping the poop. 

Poop smells, we know that – but is your dog’s poo a little (or a lot) smellier than usual? Stinkier-than-usual poos can indicate your dog’s diet isn’t working for them. Treats, new dog foods or feeding your dog too many scraps from the dinner table are usual suspects when it comes to smelly poos. 

The colour of your dog’s poo can also depend solely on your dog’s diet – reddish, greenish, or dark brown poop are all normal. If it’s looking black – it could be a sign of internal bleeding, whilst pale yellow or grey poo can be a sign of fat digestion issues in the pancreas or problems in the liver. 

When it comes down to it, dogs aren’t so different from us humans – sometimes an out-of-the-ordinary poo isn’t too much to worry about – diarrhoea can be caused by stress, anxiety – or even excitement! Whilst sometimes constipation can be a tell-tale sign your dog needs to get out more or isn’t drinking enough water. 

You know your dog better than anyone, if you feel like there’s something wrong – or common problems such as constipation or diarrhoea don’t seem to go away after a few days – don’t hesitate to take your dog to the vet, and take a stool sample with you.


Methodology 

To find locations, we used a number of ‘dog friendly’ location seed lists for the United Kingdom, United States and Europe. We discovered which cities were tackling dog fouling the best by scoring them on the following eight factors:

  1. How many dogs per city /10
  2. Do they have enforced dog fouling fines /10
  3. How easy it is to report dog fouling /10 
  4. How much is a fine for dog fouling? /10
  5. Number of parks /10
  6. Number of dogs per park /10 
  7. The estimated amount of dog poo per day /10
  8. If they have any additional dog walking rules in place /10

How many dogs per city

Calculated using either desk research to find the figure – if that wasn’t available, we took the average number of dogs per household for the country and multiplied it by the number of households/dwellings in the city. 

Do they have enforced dog fouling fines

Calculated using desk research – namely government websites, municipal codes or reputable news articles for each city.

How easy is it to report dog fouling

We looked at the government websites of each city to see if they provided an easy way to report dog fouling incidents, e.g an online form or direct telephone number. 

How much is a fine for dog fouling? 

Calculated using desk research – namely government websites, municipal codes or reputable news articles for each city.

Number of parks

Calculated using predominantly information given on the cities official government, or parks department website. If information wasn’t available, TripAdvisor was used. 

Number of dogs per park

Calculated by taking the number of dogs per city, and dividing by the number of parks in aforementioned city. 

The estimated amount of dog poo per day

Calculated by taking the estimated amount of dog poo per day, per dog globally; https://doodycalls.com/blog/dog-poop-calculator and multiplying it by the number of dogs in the city. 

If they have additional dog walking rules in place

Found using desk research, using mainly government websites, parks department websites or reputable news articles.

Each city could achieve a maximum of 10 points for each of the above categories, giving them an overall score of 80. 

U.K Sources

https://citymonitor.ai/environment/where-are-largest-cities-britain-1404 https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/files/statistics/council-area-data-sheets/aberdeen-city-council-profile.html https://www.countryliving.com/uk/travel-ideas/dog-friendly/a27578648/dog-friendly-city-uk/

https://doodycalls.com/blog/dog-poop-calculator

Europe Sources

 Wikipedia 

https://www.money.co.uk/guides/pet-friendly-cities

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/

https://england.husse.com/newsblog/husse-europe02

https://www.fediaf.org/images/FEDIAF_Annual_Report_2020_cor.pdf

U.S Sources

Wikipedia 

https://dogtime.com/dog-health/general/4360-dog-friendliest-cities-list

https://www.census.gov/

https://codelibrary.amlegal.com/

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