It’s not just a problem in Muizenberg, it’s a problem worldwide. The natural environment can support approximately 2 dogs per square kilometer without much impact, but in our urban areas there can be over 60 dogs per square kilometer – and that’s where we start running into problems . . .

Who has not experienced stepping out of the front gate, only to feel that squishy, slippery feeling under the shoe – disaster! Who has not returned from a walk around the neighbourhood, having to leave one’s shoes outside the front door to be dealt with later when feeling a little stronger and a little less angry? Who has not witnessed dog owners – both aware and oblivious – walk on and do nothing about their beloved pet’s inconveniently placed deposit?

Municipalities, communities, and individuals the world over struggle to find solutions to motivate owners to behave responsibly and keep public spaces like roads and parks and beaches clean. The environmental head of Paris in fact once claimed that by 2001 Paris was known as the dog poo capital of the world, to the extent that “the Japanese used it as an argument for opposing our candidacy for the Olympic Games”. One can have a good chuckle at the extremity of the argument, but the fact is that dog poop left lying about in quantities does devalue an area:

  • It makes the experience of being in the neighbourhood unpleasant
  • It raises negative emotions: why do we not respect each other’s needs enough to make a small effort?
  • It diminishes our ability to enjoy natural spaces like the vlei and the beach
  • It reduces the number of places we can allow our children to play freely
  • It increases the risk of exclusion: dogs being banned from beaches, or prohibited from walking unleashed
  • It sends a message to visitors that we just don’t care that much about our area

Unfortuantely, the issue is not just about disgust and lack of consideration: dog faeces contain many harmful viruses and bacteria: Toxocarisis, Salmonellosis, Coccidia, Ecoli, Parvo – to name but a few. These are easily spread by direct contact, flies and other pets, humans and especially children, water and rain . . .

Changing behaviour is, of course, no easy feat. The BBC News magazine wrote a fascinating – even inspirational – account of 8 methods that have been tried with varying degrees of success around the world to resolve the dog poop issue. It’s worth a read if you’re passionate about the topic.

Top-down efforts to regulate behaviour are often the least successful ones – people have a natural antipathy towards authority, and are unlikely to change their behaviour while the consequences of not doing so remain low.

Self-regulating groups that develop a community culture are much more likely to succeed – which implies that, rather than waiting for official bodies to “sort people out”, we will have quicker wins if we start mobilizing as a community to develop a new improved etiquette – together.

Try these ideas:

MID has appealed to the City to review the number of green bins available in the Zandvlei area, a key dog-walking zone. If struggle to scoop the poop because bins are not widely enough available here are some handy hints:

Dog bowel movements are quite predictable! Says one resident “My dog almost always poops within the first kilometer of our walk, so I plan the route of that first kilometer to be on leash and near bins so that once I scoop I don’t have to walk too far with it before I can dispose of it. After that I can let him off in the free-running area, knowing that he’s already done his business.”



Double-bag and hold it downwind! With the current shortage of bins, one may have to carry a poop bag some way before getting to a bin. Once in the bag the main problem with that is the smell – but double-bagging it and carrying it downwind from you will make the experience a lot more tolerable!



About MID:

The Muizenberg Improvement District [MID] is a geographic area where property owners have contracted to pay a levy to facilitate a joint effort by the City of Cape Town and the local community to ensure more effective management of public areas and to promote business confidence.The MID supplements normal municipal services provided by the City, using its funds to deal with public safety, enhance the environment and address social issues like vagrancy and finding workable solutions for the homeless. The Muizenberg Improvement District is a legal entity established under the City’s Special Rating Areas by-law and also governed by the South African Companies Act 2008.