The Animal Control Centre is reminding Barbadians that it is illegal for owners to allow their dogs to defecate in public without cleaning up after them.
Animal Control Officer, Curtis Thompson, said the beach worm (cutaneous larval migran), a parasite found in dog faeces, continued to plague locals and visitors to the island, who may become infected while frequenting beaches.
Infection occurs when bare skin is exposed to the larva. Dogs shed eggs in the faeces which hatch within 48 to 72 hours in warm, moist soil or sand. They develop into the infective second stage (larva) within a week.
Mr. Thompson said the Centre had a Scoop The Poop programme which encouraged dog owners to walk with a scoop and a plastic bag to pick up after their canines when out in public. He added that part of the mandate of the Centre was to prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases like the beach worm.
He disclosed that the Animal Control Centre was working towards having signs erected on beaches and other public places in an effort to deter individuals from allowing dog faeces to remain behind. Faeces found in sand or on beaches should be removed and buried at least four to six feet deep. Where it is found in other places, it should be secured in a plastic bag and disposed of in a garbage bin, as outlined in The Dog Licensing and Control Regulations, 1982, Section 12 (2) (3) Part 3 (Control of Dogs in Public Places).
The legislation also states that any person who contravenes or fails without reasonable excuse to comply with the regulations is guilty of an offence and if convicted could be fined the sum of $250 or imprisoned for three months, or both.
Mr. Thompson explained that while the Centre was the enforcing agency, the policing of the Scoop The Poop programme could not be left solely up to them. He noted there were other authorised personnel responsible for enforcing the legislation including: environmental health officers; the Royal Barbados Police Force; beach rangers and tourism officials.
He said there were a number health and environmental reasons why it made sense for individuals to clean up after their pets: storm water carries pet waste and other pollutants directly into water ways; animal waste adds nitrogen to water – excess nitrogen depletes oxygen in the water that is necessary for wildlife or fish; and animal waste may contain harmful organisms such as giardia, salmonella and e.coli, that can be transmitted to humans and other animals by ingesting contaminated water.
It was also pointed out that round worms and hook worms deposited by infected animals could live in the soil for long periods of time and be transmitted to other animals and humans.?? Furthermore, scooping your dog’s poop on a regular basis should lead to an increase in the growing number of responsible pet owners on the island and would encourage hotels/restaurants to accept pets when persons were travelling; thus keeping
boarding fees to a minimum.?? Moreover, he noted that scooping the poop and applying lime would prevent odours and fly infestation.