One of the main causes of irritation to everyone – including many dog owners – is fouling in public places. Everyone has to share the same recreational space and there is nothing worse than having to constantly look for dog poo to prevent you or your children stepping or even falling into it.

Obviously it is the dog that does the poo but it is unfair to blame the canine population; it is the responsibility of the dog owner to ensure that the dog's mess is cleaned up. Although there are a great number of owners that do clear it up, there are still some people who feel it is unhygienic or not something they should have to do, however it is a real health hazard to leave it where it lies - on pavements, in parks and playgrounds, or even on the beach and it is also against the law.

Man's Best Friend

  • There are around 24 million UK households and, in 2002, the number of households owning dogs was 4.8 million.
  • 21% of households with dogs have more than one.
  • The highest levels of dog ownership are among the 45 to 54 year-old age group - around 30%1.
  • There are around 6.8 million dogs in the UK2.
  • It is estimated that the dog population of the UK produces 900 tonnes of faeces every day3.
  • Over a ten-year lifetime, a dog can produce up to half a ton of faeces4.

The Law

The Control of Dogs Ordinance (1992) applies to all public places and states that an offence is committed if a person in charge of a dog fails to clean up his faeces. It is no defence to claim ignorance of the dog’s actions, the law, or not to have a device available to remove the faeces. This could result in a prosecution and fine.

Health Risks

All faeces contains bacteria that can cause stomach upsets if ingested. However, the greatest risk to public health from dog faeces is toxocariasis.


Toxocariasis is an infection of the round worm, spread via unwashed vegetables and dog faeces. Young children in particular are at risk due to their weaker immune systems and because they are more likely to expose themselves by ingesting the eggs. A puppy can pass as many as 15,000 eggs per gram of faeces, and they are a major source of environmental contamination.

Each T. canis female can lay up to 700 eggs a day. These are passed out when the dog defecates and can survive for up to three years in soil. After two to three weeks of warm weather the eggs develop into an embryo state, containing larva - this is when they become infective to dogs and people. The larvae try to migrate through the human body as they would in a dog's, but the human body treats them as foreign material, which causes a reaction and tissue damage.

There are two types of toxocariasis: visceral larva migrans (VLM) and ocular larva migrans (OLM).

In VLM, the larvae reach the liver, causing inflammation and symptoms such as abdominal pain and pyrexia. Most people recover spontaneously.

OLM occurs when a migrating larva reaches the eye. It causes a granuloma to form on the retina, causing significant visual impairment and in severe cases even blindness.

There are about 12 new cases of OLM diagnosed annually in the UK5.

Reduce the Risk

  • Pick up after your dog every time your dog makes a mess. Keep a packet of bags next to the dog's lead as a reminder to take them with you.
  • Ensure you regularly worm your dog - every three to six months. Use a prescription wormer from a veterinary surgeon.
  • Do not take dogs into parks that have children's playgrounds. The Control of Dogs Ordinance (1992) specifies that dogs are prohibited from children’s play areas such as those at Sausmarez Park as well as other specified public grounds such as La Vallette Bathing Pools.
  • Do not let your dog off lead if they are likely to run out of sight. If you can’t see them how can you know if or where they have had a poo!

Bag It and Bin It

A poo bag is very similar to a nappy sack. It is a small plastic bag with two handles at the top. A knot can be tied in the handles to seal them closed.  The filled bag should either be carried home for safe disposal via the refuse bin or dog loo, or placed in one of the dedicated 'poo bins', provided across the Island.

Alternatively use a 'poop scoop' which is a very simple plastic claw device that is used in conjunction with 'poop bags'.

Pregnant women and individuals with impaired immunity should take extra precautions when cleaning up the faeces by wearing disposable gloves available from chemists.

1 Source the Pet Food Manufacturers Association.

2 In Europe as a whole there are 41 million dogs (source - FEDIAF) whereas the USA there are 60.7 million dogs (source - Pet Food Institute in America).

3 Source - Environmental Protection - Defra.

4 Source - Edinburgh Council

5 Source - the UK Department of Health