ANTI-social dog owners who fail to pick up dog dirt on an estate in Pas-de-Calais are being shamed by locals who are spray-painting the mess bright pink.
The committee of residents that represents the 900 people who live in the Saint-Michel flats in Arras, in Pas-de-Calais, as well as its employees, had complained of dog poo fouling the pavements and communal areas and hatched a plan to highlight the problem in a ‘soft’ way.
The campaign to target anti-social dog-owners started last Wednesday, when residents and local authority workers armed with pink spray-paint cans set about spraying offending piles of excrement in shocking-pink.
“We wanted to take a different approach, and we’re the Anglo-Saxon ‘nudge’, in a world where it’s impossible to impose anything and everyone is free to do what they want,” says Laurent Dal, spokesman for the property’s owners, Pas-de-Calais Habitat.
The aims of the campaign are to highlight the extent of the problem and encourage dog owners to be more responsible, says Mr Dal.
It is also a way of showing potential dog owners that when you take on a pet, you not only have a responsibility to the animal but to the community, too.
“When you ask dog owners, they always say it wasn’t them, that they are model dog-owners. And if you catch them in the act, they always have a good excuse.
“People always have a good excuse for being on the telephone in the car, but it is still forbidden.”
Mr Dal says that rather than stigmatise owners, which would allow them to see themselves as victims, the initiative is designed to guide dog owners to adopt better behaviour and make life a bit trickier for those who do not.
Mr Dal says the most noticeable effect so far is that people are going further afield to walk their dogs.
The paint is biodegradable and will disappear along with the dog mess but he said the plan was not to spray the offending piles every day as the impact of the bright pink paint would be reduced and residents would get used to it.
“We don’t expect a 100% result,” says Mr Dal. “This is France, not Holland or Denmark.” He does, however, expect the scheme to be adopted on other local estates and believes that it has the potential to have an impact further afield.
Part of the reason behind the campaign is to stop dog owners allowing their pets to relieve themselves on the estate’s grounds so that workers can start on a long-planned communal garden.