The Dilemma: I refuse to pick up my dog’s poo. Am I in the wrong?

Welcome to The Dilemma, where psychologist Jacqui Manning offers advice on your ethical questions and moral dilemmas. This week she delves into whether it’s ever OK to leave dog poo on the street.

Question: My boyfriend and I share a gorgeous Staffy, Bruce, who we adore, but one issue is causing big problems in our relationship. Basically, I don’t think I should have to pick up Bruce’s poo on walks, while my boyfriend thinks it’s the right thing to do.

My reasoning is that it’s biodegradable and will break down soon anyway, and because we live in the inner city where most other dog owners seem to also leave their dog’s poo lying around, so why should I be the only one to pick it up?

Also in my area the mounted police go on daily walks with their horses and leave their waste on the street, so if the cops don’t care, I don’t think I should. Am I in the wrong here? Aiden, Victoria

Answer: It has been said that if aliens visited Earth, they would believe dogs to be the leaders of our planet held in the highest esteem. This is because us humans follow around their every move, hands encased in plastic bags, waiting to bend down behind them and whisk away their poo.

At least, that is what the humans should be doing, Aiden!

Bruce may be adorable but his excrement ain’t, especially when it gets all over the bottom of someone’s shoe. The streets and parks are public places and should be treated as such, not as Bruce’s personal toilet.

Apart from being gross, stinky and likely the ruination of a good pair of shoes, there are more serious issues at hand (or foot).

Did you know that dog faeces may contain microorganisms that can cause illness in humans, such as salmonella, E.coli, Giardia and other random parasites?

Further, dog poo can be a potential reservoir for bacteria that are antibiotic-resistant, meaning humans are more at risk from infections that cannot be controlled and managed by antibiotics.

Leaving Bruce’s turds around may be directly contributing to the rise of super-bacteria in your local neighbourhood. I’m not sure about you but that thought certainly puts me off my latte.

And I haven’t even mentioned how much dog poo being washed away by rainfall contributes to water pollution.

You use the argument “but everyone else is doing it” and while I hear you, all I really hear is a classroom full of seven-year-olds saying, “but they did it too!”

If your area is particularly bad for wayward dog poos, take a positive action like calling your local member and asking them to do better at implementing the on-the-spot fines of $275 they are entitled to.

I’m a dog owner and frequent my local dog parts and what you say is untrue. Most dog owners do pick up their canine’s business. There may be times that you go out with two bags and your dog goes three times, or you miss seeing your dog pop a quick one out behind a bush, everyone – dogs and humans – can make mistakes.

But to wilfully state that you don’t think you have to ever pick it up and you won’t, is a problem of your own individualism and entitlement and gives other dog owners – including your partner – a bad name. Guilt by association.

Bruce can’t take himself for a dump at your place, he’s not a cat, and on that, perhaps you should have considered a feline pet instead.

He won’t know why people will give him sideways glances and eye-rolls, because of your refusal to act like a responsible owner.

You mention the mounted police and I agree with you it would be optimal for them to pick it up, or to use the catchers they use overseas, but in doing my research I discovered that some people actually like to collect the manure from the inner-city streets for their gardens. Being herbivores, their poos are different to dog poos and may not pose the same health risks.

Your behaviour is causing problems in your relationship because it is a problem, and perhaps your partner is questioning why you cannot see that.

Jacqui Manning is The Friendly Psychologist.

Do you have an ethical dilemma? Email with subject line The Dilemma

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