A dog trainer in Japan is installing ‘poo posts’ to make the city more pet-friendly

A dog trainer in northeastern Japan has taken the initiative to make his town more pet-friendly by setting up “poop stations” for owners to dispose of their dogs’ waste.

Akari Tanaka, a 37-year-old resident of Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, hopes her project will help create a society where people can live comfortably with their pets, as she says locals struggle to ” take the initiative to clean up after their dogs.”

Akari Tanaka stands in front of a ‘poo station’ for dog feces disposal in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture on December 10. | KYODO

Tanaka installed the first pooping station in front of his dog grooming salon in July 2020. It is about 90 centimeters high, 50 cm wide and comes with plastic bags that people can use to pick up poo.

After setting up the station, Tanaka found that people naturally started using it without being asked, and locals told him that they had even been brave enough to pick up the waste from other owners’ dogs.

Finally, the amount of dog poo left on the road outside the salon was visibly reduced.

Tanaka says she was shocked when she moved to Hirosaki two years ago from the capital of Aomori Prefecture to find that many local parks banned entry to pets.

She learned it was because many dog ​​owners broke the rules and didn’t clean up after their pets, and she was determined to do something about it.

However, it was difficult to reach the inhabitants who were not in the habit of bringing their dog’s excrement home. It was then that Tanaka recalled seeing similar messages when she visited the US military base in Misawa in the same prefecture.

Since the poles came with plastic bags, using them to scoop up dog feces took little effort, and Tanaka realized that it might be easier for passers-by to notice the poles and pick them up. use to pick up trash nearby.

Tanaka used online crowdfunding to raise about ¥650,000 ($5,600) for his project and has since been able to establish posts in three locations in the prefecture.

It is now in negotiations with municipalities to extend the posts to roadside rest areas and public parks.

Inspired by Tanaka’s initiative, Seiji Kataoka, a 46-year-old hair salon owner in Aomori, set up a post in front of his shop.

“The position gave me a chance to communicate and connect with my neighbors,” Kataoka said.

However, there are also challenges. Dog droppings must be disposed of by anyone who installs a station. In the case of public facilities such as parks, the installation of poles could be rejected on the basis of the principle that dog droppings must be brought home by the owners.

But Tanaka does not give up. Referring to the growing trend of people touristing and traveling with their dogs, she said the installation of the poles would lead to increased visitor numbers and contribute to regional revitalization.

Tanaka’s goal is to create an environment where pets, who are often considered family members, can be accepted into communities, and poop messages are just the first step.

“I would also like to improve the systems for bringing pets in for evacuation during a natural disaster,” Tanaka said.

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