“Cleanliness is next to Godliness” – this is one of the most clichéd sayings regarding sanitation that we have heard of. But even though we have been familiar with this phrase ever since we were little children, most of us often forget to implement it in our day- to- day life. When I say this, I am not referring to personal hygiene. I think every single individual knows how to maintain his or her personal hygiene at least to a satisfactory level. So that is not a matter of anybody else’s concern. What really is concerning, though, is the fact that generally, people are not bothered about the keeping their surroundings clean. Even though they are well aware that there are a lot of people apart from themselves, who live in the very same city, they go around littering the streets carelessly.
Most importantly I would like to bring out the matter of ill- mannered pet owners who do not clean up after their pets. Just like us humans, even animals have their needs. They too are obliged to answer the calls of nature. But unlike us, they cannot possibly use a commode and flush off after that. It is up to their masters to frequently take them out for walks, pick up their wastes and safely dispose them later. It is common to see that most of the people who own pets do the first but forget the rest, which in fact, are of utmost importance. Even though there are many to clean up after a dog — scoops, bags and gloves — are available at pet shops, they find few takers. People spend a lot on other things like clothes, snacks and toys for their pet and yet they forget the essentials stuff.
When we adopt any animals as pets, we enter into a commitment not only with those animals but also with the society. We do not just make a promise to take care of our pets. We even make a promise to the people around us that our pets will not cause hindrance or disturbance of any kind to them. But many times we are the first to forget this promise. It is observed that some people take their dogs for a walk to public places like parks or streets. The dogs finish off their business and their owners just walk away expecting somebody else to clean up the mess. If the same was to happen in our homes, would we just leave the poop there? Would we not remove it and keep our homes clean? Then why not do the same elsewhere? It is, after all, the waste left behind by our own dogs. So does that not make it our responsibility to pick it up too?
This is not only a matter of cleanliness but also of safety. At the close of the 20th century, around 650 Parisians were landing in hospital every year with broken bones and worse after slipping on dog poop. And that is the figure only in Paris. Not just that, this also leads to a lot of fighting as pet owners and non- owners have arguments argue over the pet’s toilet manners. Therefore, it even causes people to drift apart. Many public places even have sign boards put up, urging owners to clean up, but to no avail. Dog poop is acidic and plays havoc with soil chemistry. So, flower beds in the park are no place for it. It is also full of harmful bacteria and should not be left around human habitation. Also, it contains parasites like hookworms and ringworms that can pass on to children playing in parks and on soiled pavements.
It is not right that we dirty our surroundings and then expect other people to bear the brunt of our mistakes. It is not just the cleaners who are troubled by this menace but also the general public. Imagine having to walk in a street which is littered with dog poop. Or imagine the scenario in which you go to the park to enjoy with your friends or family but are not all that comfortable because for half of the time that you are there, all you are worried about is stepping on poop. Not only does is the stench unbearable but sight too is unpleasant. At times like this don’t you wish that the offenders should be taught a lesson so that they will not make the same mistake again? Don’t you wish that there were strict laws enforced all over the country, which would not let people dirty public places?
Sadly enough, India does not have any laws regarding this issue but many cities are thinking about levying a ‘Poop tax’. Some places pits to be used as dog toilets. The Bangalore had announced that it would penalize dog owners who don’t clean up. Pune had proposed to build more than a dozen pet toilets that would cost Rs.50,000 each. In 2009, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation banned pet owners from walking their dogs on Marine Drive. But this resulted in even the responsible pet owners suffering. They then employed cleaners to clean the wastes every morning and evening. Even special dog litter bins were installed because throwing dog poop in the regular dustbins is not allowed. Pamphlets were distributed to dog owners, so that they would be responsible. The BMC finally lifted the ban but still keeps an alert watch.
Such measures should be taken throughout the country. But more importantly, pet owners must themselves know not to leave the environment messy. We must toilet train our dogs and serve as an example for other pet owners. After all, this country, too, is our extended home, isn’t it?