Dog poo – the debate continues

Dear Sir, — I write in response to the letter from Coun Sam Corcoran regarding dog urine.
Firstly I implore the writer not to start more paranoia in the public regarding dogs. There is already an obsession about dog poo; yes, I have dogs, and I was picking up their mess long before it was the legal or “done thing”. I did it because it was the moral thing to do. I have dogs; that is my choice, but just as I do not want other people’s interests inflicted on me, I make sure that my dogs, their behaviour or mess are not inflicted upon anyone else.
Dog poo is unpleasant and anti-social, but please get it into perspective. There are bigger problems in the country – spiralling drug use, crime, homelessness, etc, to think about.
Every instance where a child or anyone else’s sight has been harmed by toxorcariasis is tragic, but it is extremely rare. It takes an exceptional expert to distinguish between toxacara canis from dogs and toxacara cati from cats and I believe there have been instances where dog poo was blamed for a child’s sight loss when the family themselves had a cat. 
I am not being flippant, but as we know dog poo you can see. Cats tend to hide their poo in garden borders, sand pits, etc.
Fresh dog poo, although disgusting, is pretty harmless, so if picked up promptly there is no problem. 
The health risk comes when it has been left on the ground for a while, and there is no definitive answer to the amount of time this is. 
As the type of ground, the weather conditions, etc, have a role to play in when faeces has the potential to become infective and, of course, regularly wormed dogs reduce this risk even further.
But onto dog urine and leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is a disease that dogs can catch from rat urine and is more common in farm dogs and dogs that hunt and kill rats. As we are informed that we are never more than six feet away from a rat, then dogs that lick or sniff where rats have been also have the potential to become infected. 
Leptospirosis is the one vaccination that dogs should be certain to get every year. 
Leptospirosis, or Weil’s disease as it is known in humans, can be caught when caring for a sick dog and every precaution for cleanliness should be adhered to, including cleaning up urine, regular hand-washing and wearing disposable gloves. 
Again, if the dog is vaccinated there should be no problem. Humans can also catch the disease from other animals and also swimming, canoeing or other activities in lakes, canals or indeed any waterway that rats have access to (which is almost all). 
Any persons who have been in such waters should shower as soon as possible and scrupulously clean any cuts or scratches, while being vigilant about any changes in their health and seeking medical attention if any untoward symptoms occur.
Please don’t jump to conclusions and lay the blame for everything at the dog’s paws. — Yours faithfully,

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