Recently – and not for the first time – when I took my sons to play football, we had to find a stick with which to flick away the dog mess that had been deposited all over the public pitch.
Apart from the fact that it’s an offence punishable by a HK$5,000 fine for an owner not to clean up faeces or urine deposited by their dog in a public place, this got me thinking about the dangers of letting dogs do their doo-doos in our parks and streets, even if the offending articles are swiftly scooped up and thrown away.
In response to a question I posed about the relative threats of human and canine excrement on quora.com, a self-described biology professor answered, “Both are full of microbes, but those in human faeces are evolutionarily adapted to the human body, usually harmless, and in some cases even beneficial and necessary to human health. Dog faeces are more likely to contain bacteria that are poorly adapted to the human body and more likely to cause illness, not to mention that humans sometimes get some very serious worm infections from dog faeces.”
Although, there are exceptions, he said. “In such cases as a cholera epidemic and contamination of produce with human faeces (pathogenic strains of E coli), human faeces are certainly more dangerous.”
So there you have it, “proof” that, under normal circumstances, society would be better off if we let our kids defecate all over the place and insisted dogs use contained facilities. And given Hong Kong’s acute lack of public toilets, such rules would make life much easier for parents of young children.
Although I can picture a line of Star Wars poo-poo bags and other accessories for the cool caught-short kid, I’m not suggesting anything of the sort, of course. But, perhaps, if those dog owners who do not clear up after their mucky mutts considered what it might be like to be confronted with human poo on a regular basis, they might be a little more inclined to scoop the poop.