It is becoming increasingly difficult to go for a walk by the river in the city.
We are blessed to have the Canal and Lacken Walks on our doorstep but more and more people are allowing their dogs to relieve themselves along the walks and leaving the mess for someone else to clean up.
One particular area on the Lacken Walk, just off the Dublin Road and behind the only private house between the walk and the river, is notorious.
It is narrow and hard to police. Unscrupulous dog owners, are intentionally letting their dogs do their business at this point.
Kilkenny County Council are to be applauded for making the walks such beautiful places to go for a stroll, however, the amount of dog poop is making it very difficult to negotiate the paths.
They have signs up and have provided poop bags but it hasn’t stopped the practice. At times, it’s like an obstacle course and getting dog poo off your shoes is difficult.
There are serious health concerns surrounding dog excrement on paths and on grass verges used by young children.
Recently Carlow County Council launched a new campaign to highlight the issue with graphic images of youngsters touching and putting dog poo up to their mouths. The ‘Pick it up or I will’ slogan intends to emphasise to dog owners what can happen if they fail to clean up after their pet.
It is a bold initiative and one which should be applauded.
It has been estimated that a single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million faecal coliform bacteria, which are known to cause cramps, diarrhoea, intestinal illness, and serious kidney disorders in humans.
It is estimated that two or three days’ worth of droppings from a population of about 100 dogs would contribute enough bacteria to temporarily close a bathing area in a river.
If a dog has recently eaten faeces or attempted to groom their hind quarters and a human comes into contact with this infectious material, there is a chance the parasites will be passed directly to the person.
Children are especially vulnerable to infection because they tend to enjoy playing in the dirt, where parasites such as hookworm larvae lay dormant waiting for a new host. Young children may also put dirty hands or toys in their mouth, further increasing the chance for infectious material consumption.
Off the lead
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, more and more people are leaving their dogs off their leads as they go around the Canal and Lacken Walks.
Some of these canines are very large and while they are most probably docile and gentle, they look formidable and can frighten people, especially those who are sensitive.
There is nothing worse than ambling along when, suddenly, a large dog comes bounding towards you and avoids you at the last minute. For a split second you are frightened. And unsupervised dogs have, out of pure exuberance, knocked over people causing serious injury with legal consequences for the dog owner. It is against the law to leave a dog off the lead in public and everyone knows this.
Some people just don’t seem to care, their family pets run and walk along to their hearts content while other dog owners who are responsible and have their dogs on a lead have to be careful.
All dogs are different and some dogs are perfect off the lead but some are not. We cannot take a chance.
The answer might be to make a run for the dogs so they can go as fast as they want in their own safe space while the owners watch on.
Things can’t go on the way they are at present.