‘Crottoirs’ or Fertiliser Factories?

It can’t all be blamed on the French poo-dle but with nearly 9 million pet dogs in the country, big city sidewalks are more than ankle deep in canine poo and les citoyens appear to be tiring of hop, skip, slip and slide.

Dog decorated Ave de Versailles in Paris – Photo credit: Gilles Guérin

“Dégueulasse — Immonde — Ignoble — Abject — Abominable” – Disgusting, Dirty, Shameful, Abject, Abominable, writes Paris photographer Gilles Guérin, who spent a hot,smelly summer documenting some of the pungent poo piles plaguing the pleasures of pavement bistro fans in the most elegant capital of Europe — and then published the photographic record on his website.

Dégueulasse indeed and few if any would disagree, even the dog-owning culprits. In Paris according to City Hall the capital’s 150,000 strong dog population indiscriminately drops 16 tonnes of poo a day, with a clean-up and disposal price tag of 300,000 euros a month.

Stop the ‘Crot’

According to Animo-Concept based in St Laurent d’Aigouze, Gard, a firm which specialises in canine crot clean-up techniques, the problems plaguing main cities pan out as follows:

PARIS: Canine pollution represents a major source of discontent among Paris pedestrians, 70% of them consider it the leading cause of uncleanliness. In Paris, 150,000 dogs produce about 16 tonnes of excrement a day.

LYON: The cleaning of dog excrement in the greater Lyon region involves a fleet of 10 specialised bikes, which remove 40 tonnes of waste, cleaning 110 000 km of pavements at a cost to ratepayers of 590,000 euros per year.

NANTES: 6,000 tons of dog detritus is removed from 77 dog toilets and from roads in the metropolitan area each year.

NIORT: The city has nearly 8,500 pet dogs causing significant animal nuisance including 250 tonnes of dog excrement a year.

TOULOUSE: Some 53, 000 dogs in Toulouse produce 5 tons of excrement a day, and the City Council has opted for a strong awareness campaign aimed at changing dog walker’s behaviour.

In Toulouse local citizens have also gotten in on the act and started a flag-a-pile-of-poo campaign as seen in the France 3 TV video clip below. The group led by Peter, Silja, Sylvie, Soanne and John have a website here where you can download patterns and make your own flags to hand around to fellow anti-poopers.

Toulouse Deputy Mayor Jean-Michel Fabre says the French dog population foul pavements, parks and verges at a rate of some 10kgs a year each, or 88 million kgs of “crot”, a year at a clean up cost of millions of euros annually.

But in Toulouse, the city of space-age technology, science is lending a helping hand.

La Depeche reports that dogs in the the city will soon be doing their business in specially designated public spots, drawn irresistibly by a specially developed scent. This high-tech solution, pioneered by Toulouse-based Carbone Agronutrition is a joint venture with the Laboratoire de Chimie Agro-Industrielle (NPI-ENSIACET) and the National Veterinary School of Alfort.

The product “combines two olfactory groups: food smells and scents from dog urine and feces” to encourage the dog to use a public dog latrine rather than the trottoir.

As A. Craig Copetas writes in this “Dog-Poop Project in France Seeks to Convert Sidewalk Feces Into Fertilizer” piece for Bloomberg, the scientists claim to have found the Holy Grail: “In layman terms, we’ve finally discovered how to make a dog sh*t in a specific spot, disinfect the deposit and convert it into environmentally friendly energy or fertilizer.”

If it works there will be legions of happy pedestrians out there. Meanwhile mind how you go.

Story: Ken Pottinger

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16 Responses to ‘Crottoirs’ or Fertiliser Factories?

  1. Vanessa Woodward April 26, 2011 at 9:15 am

    I read with interest this article on dog fouling in the streets of French cities. Am I alone in finding it extraordinary that local authorities alone are expected to find the means to deal with this problem? There is no suggestion in the article that dog owners should be held totally responsible for clearing up after their dogs. I own an Irish Setter and until three years ago attended Expositions Canine on a regular basis. It was a source of amazement and disgust to me to note that the majority of exhibitors made no attempt whatsoever to deal with their dogs’s faeces. Unfortunately, at the risk of causing offence, the culprits that so lacked respect for the environment were invariably French. While I will accept that there are many responsible French dog owners, (and I have found that France is a far more dog friendly society than UK) others are not. Is there perhaps a need for education as to the danger to health from dog faeces? Or is it simply that no-one cares? These careless owners show no trace of embarrassment or guilt when their dogs defecates. They merely wait – and then walk away.

  2. Jim Jenkins May 23, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    In the US we are required to keep dogs on leash and pick up their deposits. In urban areas, a dog owner who doesn’t pick up after his pet is considered a boor and as anti-social as someone throwing candy wrappers on the street. In travels through Europe, particularly in Spain and France, I felt I was walking a mine-field down the sidewalks… sidestepping doggy-packages everywhere.

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