Dog fouling still a problem in the Liberties

By Crystal Ramirez

Darting eyes and quick feet are a must in the Liberties as residents dodge piles of dog feces on nearly every block. Many dog owners and local residents think more needs to be done to combat the ongoing problem, despite efforts already made by the Dublin City Council.

Last summer, the council implemented an Anti-Dog Fouling Awareness Campaign. Dog owners were given free poop scoopers, bags and information on where to dispose of their dog’s waste. Signs posted above litter bins declare “Bag the poo, any bin will do.”

Jasper Wood, 31, a 15-year Liberties resident who said he always carries waste bags with him for his greyhound, isn’t impressed with the awareness campaign.

Wood said it’s been poorly implemented, and he attributes the unwillingness by local dog owners to participate to the lack of litter bins around the neighborhood.

Deputy Lord Mayor and TD Clare Byrne said litter wardens often have a difficult time issuing fines because people will give wrong names and addresses, and they do not have the authority to ask for identification.

“There’s only so much money we can put into an initiative, and we can’t put a dog warden on every street,” she said.

The Dublin City Council employs three dog wardens none of whom are allocated to a specific area of the city. Patrols are carried out in any area that is highlighted by concerned members of the public or Gardai.

Only three €150 fines have been issued — none in the Liberties — since the start of the campaign last year. Two fines were issued in the North West Area, and one was issued in the North Central Area.

Litter Prevention Officer Bernie Lillis blames dog owners’ ignorance and laziness for the problem.

“I think if everybody just brought a little bag with them to remove the dog fouling, it would be such a help because our city is just destroyed at the moment,” said Lillis.

The Dublin City Council sends out waste management staff once every 12 weeks in residential areas like The Liberties to clean up dog foul, however, in areas with shopping precincts and villages, dog foul is cleaned up every week day, Lillis said.

The council spends about €31 million on litter removal and street cleaning every year.

In November, another citywide campaign was launched called “Let’s Make a Clean Start Together” that had a simple message for dog owners: pick it up and throw it away.

The campaign also highlighted a disease called toxocariasis, which is found in dog foul that has been left for a long period of time. The disease is caused by the eggs of the roundworm toxocara and can be easily transmitted to humans once they come in contact with the dog foul.

This has been a major concern for residents with small children who fear their child might touch the foul and then rub their eyes, which can lead to serious illness and even partial blindness.

Mick Troy, 56, a lifetime Liberties resident who owns a 4-month-old puppy named T, said he would never leave his house without proper waste bags.

“If they’re not willing enough to clean up after their dog, then they shouldn’t deserve to have them,” said Troy. “If a baby went to the toilet, you would clean up after them, wouldn’t ya’? Well, you treat the dog the same way.”

Crystal Ramirez was part of a team of students from Columbia College Chicago who traveled to Ireland to report and write about the Liberties.


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