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Dog fouling drops over 50% in Galway after spray paint trial

Volunteers sprayed dog excrement in pink paint to highlight the issue.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

A CITY COUNCIL said they had seen an enormous drop of more than 50% in the amount of dog fouling after a trial to spray paint canine poop in their area.

Galway City Council ran their ‘Clean it up you dirty Pup!’ initiative across three different trial areas with a so-far remarkable success rate.

The scheme was modelled on a similar trial in Roscommon where the town of Ballintubber reported a drop in dog fouling over two months from 300 instances to zero, according to FOI records.

Galway’s trial started early this summer when they began to spray paint stencil messages in areas where dog fouling had been reported to them.

Separately, volunteers in each local area would spray and highlight the actual dog poop in fluorescent pink as part of a three-month trial.

  • Our colleagues at Noteworthy want to find out what is being done to tackle dog faeces littering our streets and parks. Support this project here.

The areas chosen were Galway’s Westend, Hunter’s Park, and Ballyloughane where the council had significant buy-in from the local community.

A spokeswoman said: “Galway City Council have seen a 55% reduction in dog fouling in the three trial areas … this highlights that collaboration with community groups to encourage responsible dog ownership can achieve results.

[We] have now expanded the initiative to include areas of Ballybane, Shantalla and Glenard Park in Salthill. Other councils have requested feedback in relation to [it].

A business case for the scheme – released by the council – reveal how the council had extensive complaints about dog fouling during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It said: “[These were] in respect of parks, beaches, housing estates and other local amenities which affect the overall image of the city … it is also very unpleasant for citizens to encounter.”

They proposed a press and social media campaign to launch the initiative, with local authority staff to stencil the dog fouling message in the target areas.

“White and yellow line marking spray paint should be used as it is much more durable than chalk-based paint,” said the brief. “The stencil lettering needs to be quite large so as to attain legibility for the public.”

They said a ‘baseline survey’ of fouling levels would take place before and that chalk-based paint would be used to spray the poop in an eco-friendly way.

Costs for the campaign were estimated at just over €20,000 between advertising, signs, extra mutt-mitt dog poop bags, stencils, and paints.

The campaign plan said: “By utilising such a direct approach to dog fouling in Galway City, it is hoped that this method will pay dividends in a short period.”

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It said the initiative could be rolled out on a yearly basis and that Galway City Council were also consulting with colleagues in Leitrim about a planned trial of DNA testing for dog poo.

The business case also pointed to the success of a spray-painting campaign in Ballintubber, Co Roscommon where dog fouling had all but disappeared during a two-month trial in 2019.

Theresa McCabe, climate change and environmental awareness officer with Roscommon County Council, said their ‘Green Dog Walkers’ programme had been operating for a number of years to tackle dog owners leaving waste behind.

She said it was an “inconsiderate and irritating little problem” and that their scheme was a “non-confrontational, friendly way to change attitudes”.

“The philosophy of this campaign is to start shifting public attitudes so that it becomes socially unacceptable not to clean up after your dog,” said Theresa McCabe.

“With this change of attitude, it is hoped for a general acceptance that dog owners must clean up after their dog fouls and therefore reduce the amount of litter in public areas.”

About the author:

Ken Foxe

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