Many urban areas are experiencing problems with the increasing amount of dog litter in the streets. With the huge concentration of dogs in metropolitan areas, whether as household pets or guard dogs, the city is experiencing a comparable increase in waste materials dotting the already run-down urban landscape.
Concern about environmental pollution has also increased. Many citizens and some media reporters have made a sensation over dog litter, claiming that every disease from the common cold to bubonic plague comes directly from dog litter. Some people have gone a little too far by coming up with slogans such as “children before dogs”.
To be quite frank, dog litter does not present real medical concern to the average resident of a large city. The more serious health concern is to other dogs. Diseases such as hepatitis and distemper are passed from infected dogs to healthy ones through saliva and urine, while internal parasites are transmitted through the stool of infected dogs.
However, for a human to contract any disease from dogs would require that he walk the street barefooted or physically ingest dog waste or fleas which is, of course, highly unlikely. The argument of the “children before dogs” group is that children will unwittingly eat dog fleas and stool. We assume that parents would not let their young children to play unattended on public streets, parks and pavements; and when they are old enough to play unattended, they have been taught the basics of cleanliness and hygiene.
More likely to be of significant danger to human health is contamination of food by roaches, rats, and the common housefly, none of which seems to be exciting enough for these same people who are so concerned with dog litter.
But no matter who is right or wrong, most people will agree that dog litter causes an awful smell and unsightly pollution of our environment in an area that can hardly afford it. Every dog owner is responsible for the mess created by his dog. Whether it is a Great Dane or a Chihuahua, each dog does his share in contaminating natural resources and infuriating pedestrians.
It is puzzling that dog owners who are fortunate enough to have a backyard have no difficulty keeping it clean of dog waste; but these same owners will walk their dog out the front door and allow her to pollute the public street, which is basically everyone's' front yard.
People who have never loved a pet do not quite understand the sensitivity to nature that many animal lovers feel. We need to be considerate of our neighbors as well as our pets. The rights and privileges of other people cannot be ignored. Our dogs are our responsibility and we have no right to expect others to clean up after them.
We contribute to a substantially cleaner environment just by cleaning up after our pet. It is up to us to preserve decent cities to our pets as well as for ourselves and our neighbors.
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