16 June 2019

Ireland is currently facing a serious dog fouling issue with the number of complaints to Local Authorities on the rise. It is a public health concern and nuisance that is increasingly being discussed as one of the major urban issues in Ireland. In fact, during the recent local elections, one of the biggest complaints that many candidates heard on the doorsteps of Ireland, was the issue of dog fouling - and were asked if elected what would the candidates do about it. In light of this Maxi Zoo, Ireland’s largest pet retailer, commissioned a survey to look into dog owners attitudes and behaviours on the subject of dog fouling.

Interestingly, with over 2,000 responses, the survey found that 93% of dog owners believe that it is socially unacceptable to leave dog poop on the ground, however one in 10 of those asked felt embarrassed when they had to pick up their dog’s poop in public.

Managing Director of Maxi Zoo, Ciarán O’Neill stated “For the most part, the survey results are positive - which is great to see that the majority of dog owners are responsible for their pets. However, we realise there is still a wider issue which needs to be addressed to help alleviate the stigma attached to picking up dog poop, so that we can help combat this problem in our country.”

He continued “We feel strongly about creating positive change and the issue of dog fouling is something we need to look at - changing the perceptions and behaviours of dog owners is the first starting point and we hope to encourage dog owners to ensure they carry dog poop bags at all times when walking their dogs.”

Ciarán added “99% of the Maxi Zoo team are pet owners and together, we are going to look at ways that we can help with this issue in Ireland. In our 20 stores we are talking to thousands of pet owners every day of the week, offering advice and help - we genuinely love animals as much as our customers do, so it’s important that we play our part too.”

While the survey showed that the majority of respondents 92% were responsible enough to bring poop bags with them while walking their dogs - 1% of those asked admitted that they never pick up their dogs poop! Educating this small percentage of people could be the turning point in eradicating this issue in Ireland. Emma Fanning, Brand Ambassador and Training and Livestock Manager at Maxi Zoo, regularly runs information days at Maxi Zoo stores throughout Ireland and also conducts “Responsible Pet Ownership” school talks.

Emma believes that “Education is key when changing public behaviour. We enjoy interacting with our customers and the wider community on how best to care for their pet. Picking up your dog's poop is an essential part of being a responsible dog owner ”

Emma continues “Not only can dog poop potentially carry harmful bacteria which is bad for health - but we believe accidentally stepping in dog poop is one of the most annoying things that can happen to someone and tends to disrupt your whole day. We hope that by educating and encouraging the public further, we can help remove this annoyance”. Luckily the survey showed that almost two thirds of the respondents think it is important to pick up after your dog as it is not good for the health of others. One third of respondents felt that it was important as it is a form of littering, and the remaining 3% felt it was important in case they get fined. This low stat isn’t surprising when in 2018 it was reported that in Dublin city only four such fines were issued by Dublin City Council.

Other key findings of the survey included:

● 95% of respondents believe that there are not enough dog waste bins in their local area.

● One in 10 people would leave their dogs poop on the ground if it was off path in a woodland area.

● Over half of dog walkers admitted they would not pick up another dogs poop - even if it was next to their own.

● Over 50% of the respondents believe that the poop bag material would influence their purchasing behaviour. With over 53% of those choosing degradable or biodegradable plastics.

Without doubt, this is an issue which needs to be addressed. Ireland has held many successful national campaigns in the past on topics such as The Smoking Ban of 2004 and a €1.6 million Dublin City campaign against the disposal of chewing gum in public places. Maxi Zoo wish to address the issue of dog fouling and plan to drive this initiative which they are working on at present, to play their part to help overcome this problem.

For further information please visit the Maxi Zoo Ireland Facebook Page @MaxiZooIreland or visit www.maxizoo.ie