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September 22, 2015

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‘Pet restrooms’ get the thumbs up but dogs have other ideas

WE see it all around us — on the street, at the park and at places inconceivable.

Dog poop is a modern day reality and a huge annoyance, but the best of efforts — road signs, poop bags, etc — have done little to change things.

Another neighborhood has revived the idea of “pet restrooms” for our canine companions but their effectiveness is still being debated.

In Fengpuyuan in Fengxian District, a four-square-meter ground with sand over sieves and wooden fences was declared “public restrooms” for pets this month.

“Residents have told us the neighborhood is less polluted since we launched this experiment,” said Zhu Qing, a public relations official at the No.1 Residents Committee of Fengpu Community.

Zhu said dog owners have welcomed the idea and are using the area, but this “restroom” is also becoming exclusive.

“It seems that only dogs that are familiar with each other use the spot because they tend to defecate in certain places to mark their territory,” she said.

Despite that, the committee said it was considering setting up similar facilities in other neighborhoods as well. Volunteers help them to clean up the waste left on the spot.

In 2012, Xiaonanqiao community in Jiading District came up with something similar but gave it all up after just one month.

The community put up wooden plates — about 75x40 centimeters — in 40 places and covered them with sands. The areas were marked “pet restrooms.”

“We did not realize that once a dog used the area, no other dogs would come near it,” said Wan Furong, Director of the Residents Committee of the community.

Wan, who was once proud of his unique idea, said he and his colleagues ran out of ideas on how to deal with the frustrating pet waste problem in the community.

“We held discussion among dog owners and distributed disposable plastic gloves for cleaning the waste, but it is difficult to raise their awareness of doing public good,” he said.

Feng Xiaoyu, a dog owner from Baoshan District who has raised dogs in his family for nearly 20 years, told Shanghai Daily that he had heard of “pet restrooms” but did not think it was a wise solution.

“I don’t think those who come up with such ideas keep dogs themselves, otherwise they would know it is not feasible,” Feng said.

Feng thinks rules and punishments are the only way to stem the problem. Instilling a sense of belonging and responsibility among the residents towards the community can also help in dealing with the problem.

“Our neighborhood, for example, has been inviting dog owners to various campaigns. They end up feeling like they are contributing more to the environment by scooping up their pets’ poop,” he said.


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