We are a nation of dog lovers, owning over eight million dogs in the UK. With eight million dogs comes a lot of dog waste, in fact the UK dog population produces over 1,000 tonnes of doggy doo a day, that’s the equivalent of 200 elephants, three airplanes or 100 double decker buses.
Despite the majority of dog owners being responsible and picking up after their pooch, dog waste remains a prominent and unpleasant issue in Northern Ireland. To launch its third annual anti-fouling campaign, The Big Scoop 2015, Dogs Trust, Keep Britain Tidy, The Deputy Lord Mayor and DARD Minister, Michelle O’Neill MLA are calling on the people of Belfast to become ambassadors for the campaign as a ‘Scooper Hero’ and spread the message about picking up after your pooch and reminding them to ‘bag it and bin it’.
The Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Guy Spence was joined by the council’s champion, Scoop Dog, Dogs Trust Northern Ireland Campaigns Manager Ronnie Milsop and staff from local rehoming centre, Dogs Trust Ballymena, in Falls Park, Belfast to help spread the campaign’s key messages. Also in attendance was a group of Scooper Heroes from St Theresa’s Primary School in Belfast and Pip the Shih Tzu Bichon Frise Cross, one of the many dogs at Dogs Trust Ballymena currently looking for a forever home.
The Deputy Lord Mayor hopes The Big Scoop Campaign will encourage community cohesion and responsible dog ownership.
“Belfast City Council is delighted to support Dogs Trust and The Big Scoop Campaign in its launch week, particularly as it highlights an important issue that we are also working hard to address.
“What’s great about today is seeing our younger generation supporting the cause as Scooper Heroes. We’re a city of dog-lovers and it’s wonderful to have so much green space in Belfast where owners can come and enjoy a walk with their dogs, and everyone can enjoy a picnic - but nobody likes stepping in dog waste and it is an issue that affects us all.
“The Big Scoop Campaign from Dogs Trust is raising much-needed awareness about the importance of picking up after your dog and informing everyone to bag it, bin it. I’m hopeful the campaign will encourage dog owners everywhere to be more responsible, and our Scooper Heroes will continue to spread this message throughout the year. Remember - your dog, your job.”
Dogs Trust Campaigns Manager, Ronnie Milsop hopes this year’s The Big Scoop campaign will encourage ‘Scooper Heroes’ to spread the key messages in the campaign:
“Dog fouling is still one of the most complained about public nuisances to councils because it affects everyone, whether you are a dog owner or not. The Big Scoop is all about supporting councils in keeping their areas pleasant, safe and dog poo free, to educate children - the dog owners of tomorrow – on responsible dog ownership, and to remind everyone to always ‘bag it and bin it’!”
Dogs Trust has encouraged schools to develop posters illustrating the ‘bag it, bin it’ message. The posters aim to channel pupils artistic skills to make a poster deterring dog owners from ignoring their dog’s waste and encouraging all dog owners to ‘bag it and bin it’. The winning poster will be shared online, and the chosen artist will be awarded with Dogs Trust goodies. All schools will also receive The Big Scoop leaflets, posters, capes, poo bags and rosettes to get young people behind the campaign.
DARD Minister, Michelle O’Neill MLA predicts The Big Scoop Campaign will help keep the green spaces and streets of Belfast clean:
"Dogs have a great name as being great companions for both young and old alike. However along with the great joys that dogs bring they also bring responsibility. It is great to see such a positive and simple campaign to help keep our streets clean. I support 'The Big Scoop' campaign to keep our streets clean for everyone."
Although the majority of dog owners pick up after their dogs, some regular poop scoopers admit that there have been occasions when they’ve failed to scoop the poop of their own dog, despite knowing the implications of dog fouling in their local community. This may be due to a lack of a suitable bin because some people think that dog poo can only be disposed of in special dog waste bins. According to findings from Keep Britain Tidy, emptying a specialised dog waste bin can cost councils twice as much as emptying a general one*. This finding suggests that dog owners in the UK need to be made more aware of the fact any public bin can be used to dispose of dog poo.
Click here to find out more about The Big Scoop
* As cited on page 28 of Keep Britain Tidy’s Local Environmental Quality Survey of England 2012/13