Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Conflicts over dog litter as a public health issue

One of the fascinating things about companion animals in contemporary Western societies is how they can bring people closer together, but also drive other people further apart. When it comes to the health of human and nonhuman populations, I am just one of many interested in dog-walking as an urban phenomenon that can promote physical activity and positive social interactions. But sometimes, the presence of dogs in urbanized settings is problematic. Dog litter is a case in point. For a long time, dog litter has been recognized as a public health issue because of its potential to spread disease. But dog litter can also discourage people from visiting parks or beaches, and pose a barrier to social cohesion. This topic is something that my research group has broached in a review article that recently appeared in Health & Place. Conflict over dog litter is also the subject of an insightful feature article that ran earlier this year in The New York Times.