Cats often get a raw deal compared to dogs. Declawing is an example. Another example is cats kept inside full-time or cats being shot at with bullets in the USA and air gun pellets in the UK5. There appears to be more feral cats than feral dogs in Europe and feral cats are often poisoned and persecuted in ways that the dog is not. I may be wrong but my feeling is that the cat is generally worse off than the dog. As “pets” they are about equal in number worldwide.
So what about dog poo? What about kids mauled to death by dogs? Sixteen British people – often kids – have been killed by dogs since 2005. Each year in England, there are 6,000 hospital visits due to attacks by dogs2. There are discussions about introducing a life sentence for a conviction of a person who owns a dog that kills a person. Currently the maximum is a two year sentence. Cats don’t kill kids. A cat might scratch someone and they might moan about it for ever and a day but that is not the same thing and the reason will be carelessness by the person (dogs killing people is also about irresponsible human behavior).
Dog poo can cause toxocariasis in humans. This is a serious illness, which can cause blindness. It is caused by the roundworm in the dog’s intestine. The roundworm eggs can contaminate the soil in parks. Of course, children are at most risk, once again, because they play on the grass3.
Most cats poo in the cat litter, which is inside the home and cleared up in a controlled way by the cat’s caretaker. Ninety percent of the time domestic cat poo is never anywhere near anyone except the cat’s owner.
Whereas, in the UK (and elsewhere?) dogs nearly always poo in public places; on the pavement or on the grass in parks etc. The modern trend is for people to pick it up and place it in a receptacle somewhere. You see them in parks. This is a fairly recent development but apparently this modern and welcome habit is not universally adhered to by dog owners.
In the UK, it has become illegal for a dog’s owner to not remove dog poo from public places. That law may apply across the board to all local authorities. I am not sure. However, local laws regarding dog fouling are difficult to enforce. Where there is no CCTV, a person is liable to be careless and break the law. Also the fixed penalty on the spot fine is just £751.
In Finchley, London, for example, you have to wade through it on the streets 😉2. Well, not quite but dog poo still presents a hazard to the general public especially in parks. You want to sit down in a park and have a picnic. Don’t do it until you have made a careful inspection of the chosen area.
Then there is dog pee. I can still remember living in Paris in the late 1970s, early 1980s, walking on the pavement and picking my way through the rivers and tributaries of dog urine flowing from the wall of buildings on one side and the gutter on the other.
I like or love all animals. I like dogs so please don’t misinterpret what I am writing. I simply wish to redress the balance between cat and dog a little. Put the record straight. Over and over again we read about cats being a hazard to our health and to wildlife. Let’s not criticise dogs in the press let’s but, instead, let’s criticise cats less. And if we do want to criticise dogs let’s first start with looking – with a critical eye – at how people look after their dogs, train them and act irresponsibly towards them.
Going to the root of all “pet problems” is the human. Let’s work back to people and resolve the problems without hurting dogs and cats.
Refs and notes:
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- Stafford Borough Council
- Times Newspaper 10th Aug 2013.
- Stafford Borough Council
- Picture: dog fouling picture by ell brown (Birmingham, UK). Cats in litter: sorry, lost the credit.
- I realise that dogs are sometimes unnecessarily shot by police officers in the USA.