Apparently, Moscow parks are somewhat hazardous, at last in terms of where you step. Moscow dog owners have historically done a poor job of picking up after their dogs, and local officials are trying to intervene. Soon, all Moscow parks will have paper bags and plastic scoops for people to use to pick up after their dogs.

One dog owner, supportive of the plan, stated “It’s absolutely essential – we really needed these bags. First of all, it’s very convenient. But also, now I’m not worried anymore about leaving the poo just lying around. The park is so beautiful.” [I would have thought that if you were worried about leaving poo lying around, you’d just take the initiative to pick it up, but I guess a little boost is needed to get some people started.]

This initiative in being undertaken for two main reasons. One is the obvious unsightly nature of poop piles in parks. The other is concern about infectious diseases. Prime Time Russia states that bacteria in dog feces can cause "allergies and an infection that leads to blindness. When dog feces dries and turns to dust, these bacteria are spread. Last year, 400 people in Moscow were diagnosed with the infection. The worst is the fact that since the dust is lying on the ground, children are particularly exposed to the danger."

This is a bit confusing. Feces isn’t much of a concern in terms of allergies. Further, I’m not aware of common bacterial infections from dogs that can cause blindness in people. I suspect they actually mean ocular larva migrans, a parasitic disease that can occur when a person inadvertently ingests eggs of the canine roundworm (Toxocara canis) that have been passed in feces of a dog, and that have lived in the environment for a long enough time to mature to their infective state. Regardless, there are clearly infectious disease concerns from exposure to dog feces in parks, particularly to children.

The approach of providing supplies for people to clean up after their dogs is novel. Some people might find it strange, since in many regions, people are quite good about picking up after their dogs. Providing supplies to people in those regions probably wouldn’t have much of an impact, since the responsible owners bring their own and the rest probably wouldn’t use them anyway. This type of initiative is potentially quite useful in areas where cleaning up after your dog is not as ingrained, and where providing supplies can act as both a reminder and as a way to assist. It will be interesting to see what kind of impact this has.

(click image for source)