After years of dealing with a really crappy problem, the city of Madrid in Spain has hit on a solution. Dog owners have been very negligent when it comes to cleaning up after Fido on his walks. The city council tried awareness drives with cue commercials on television. They tried fines and warnings. Nothing seemed to help.
So some volunteers got together and formed the Poo Express.
Essentially, the volunteers hang around areas where owners walk their dogs. Then, when they spot someone not poop-scooping after their dog, they approach that person. But they do not confront them. They strike up a conversation. They learn the breed of dog, get a few other bits of information that can help identify the owner, then bid them farewell.
After the dog and owner are gone, the volunteer scoops up and keeps the poo, for later use.
From here the sleuthing starts. The volunteers visit the town hall register, where they use the information they gleaned from their conversation with the owner to determine the owners address. The Poo Express folks then mail the dog's poo back to the owner, labeled as a "lost and found item". Sometimes they even wait with hidden cameras while he delivery is made.
The strange campaign has seen a 70 percent reduction in dog poo messes around the city. A city council spokesperson says, “We're not sure whether that's because they're more afraid of getting their dogs' excrement delivered back to them than of being fined."
So it works. But how does the public feel about the whole thing?
“In general, the campaign has been well-accepted, although a lot of people have called for designated areas to be set up where dogs can do their 'bits and bobs' – like everything, there are opinions for all tastes.”
Madird mayor Borja Gutiérrez says the entire effort costs next to nothing, a great improvement over the other drives and awareness campaigns they have tried.