Some people take dog poop really seriously. If you work here at Dogster, it’s kind of hard not to notice. Recently, Michael Leaverton wrote about the neighborhood in Brooklyn (my old neighborhood, actually), that was fighting dog poop via webcams, and activists in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and Boulder, Colorado, have advocated using DNA testing to catch owners who don’t clean up. And in a moment of true hipster weirdness, two Brooklyn artists had a turf war over painting dog poop gold.
These examples aren’t much, though, when compared with the anti-poop campaign unleashed by the borough council of Spelthorne in Southeast England. These people really hate dog poop, and they’ve grossed out about half the planet in the process.
A poster in the council’s “No Messin'” campaign features a picture of an adorable ginger-haired toddler looking at the camera. The child is holding two lumps of what looks like dog poop in his hands, and it’s smeared around his mouth and cheeks. The caption reads “Children will touch anything. Dog faeces can be harmful to human health and can cause blindness. An infection called Toxocara canis can be caught if the waste is not removed immediately.”
The campaign was launched last year but recently exploded across international borders when it was posted to Imgur.com. Since it went up Sunday, the poster has gotten 1 million hits on Imgur and been reposted to scores of other sites.
Some people have declared the poster to be “vile,” but the Spelthorne Borough Council continues to stand behind its approach. In a statement, one council member said that the campaign was effective precisely because it was “hard-hitting.” The statement further reads:
“The council takes the view that these kinds of messages and imagery are necessary to have the required effect. It is using a number of different images and messages to deal with this problem which, it hopes, will persuade people to act more responsibly.”
Spelthorne isn’t the first government body in England to use this tactic, either. Last year, officials in Bristol put up a billboard as part of its war on poop showing a little girl eating fake (we hope) poo. Our man Leaverton wrote a hysterical take on this one, Why Is This Little Girl Eating Dog Poop on This Billboard?
It’s certainly the responsibility of every dog owner to clean up after his or her pet, but — does this go too far? I have to admit that my inner 12-year-old is giggling up a storm, but grown-up me is kind of squirming. I’m all for confrontation and making people uncomfortable in the name of a good cause. A good part of my urge to write is driven by the old maxim to “Comfort the troubled and trouble the comfortable.”
But this is dog poop. Is the situation really this out of control?
What do you think? Is the ad a good way to draw people’s attention to a serious problem, or a bunch of people blowing things out of proportion with shock tactics?
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