Dog mess is an unacceptable and offensive type of litter on our streets.
What might be less obvious is that it can help to spread dog Parvovirus among our four-legged friends, as one Swinton owner found out to his horror.
Shaun Stead cut short a family holiday to Tenerife after a call from his dog sitter to say that his German Pointer Murphy was seriously ill with parvovirus, and vets were only giving the dog a 15-20% chance of survival.
Despite having been vaccinated against parvovirus, Murphy was suffering from a severe bout of vomiting and diarrhea. Dog dirt left by irresponsible owners was suspected as the cause of his serious illness, which tests later confirmed as parvovirus.
Shaun said: “We flew home as soon as we could after we got the call. It was horrendous and we felt totally helpless.”
When Shaun landed back in the UK, 14-month-old Murphy could hardly muster the energy to stand, was undergoing one-to-one care at the vets and had lost masses of weight.
“The vet told us he probably wouldn’t survive, we were in bits and it was likely simply down to people not picking up after their dog – totally avoidable.”
Dog parvovirus can affect all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than four months old are most at risk.
Dogs that are ill from canine parvovirus infection are often said to have "parvo." The virus affects dogs' gastrointestinal tracts and is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated faeces, environments, or people.
It is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and drying, and can survive in the environment for long periods of time. Even trace amounts of faeces from an infected dog may harbour the virus and infect other dogs that come into the infected environment. The virus is spread from place to place on the hair or feet of dogs too.
“We came very close to losing our boy,” said Shaun. “If you’re a dog owner, carry bags and pick up, there’s no excuse for not doing the decent thing.”
“I wouldn’t want any animal lover to go through what we have.”
Research by Keep Britain Tidy also tells us that dog fouling is an issue of concern to the public.
Dog fouling is not only deeply unpleasant, it’s dangerous. Whilst rare, contact with dog excrement can cause toxocariasis – a nasty infection that can lead to dizziness, nausea, asthma and even blindness or seizures.
While most dog owners are caring and responsible, there are still some people who don’t clean up after their pets.
Anyone who fails to clear up after their dog can be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice of up to £150. If the case goes to court this could cost the owner or person in charge of the animal up to £1,000.
The law states that being unaware that your dog has fouled or not having a suitable bag is not a reasonable excuse.
After spending two or three weeks indoors as a precautionary step Murphy started his recovery and has since returned to a healthy weight. Tests have also revealed that his vital organs are fine and he shows no lasting effects of the virus.
Please pick up after your dog.