Blinded by Mess


The English are pretty keen on health and safety. I have to go through two sets of fire doors to get to my desk at work. The trains kindly remind you to mind the gap. Workmen, cyclists, police officers, and anyone else who might go unseen wears a florescent yellow vest. The park is full of signs that threaten of the blinding power of poo.

According to these signs in Bishop’s Park, up to seven hundred people are blinded after coming into contact with dog mess each year.

My question is HOW? Seven hundred people blinded by dog feces is a lot!

These signs appeared with such frequency, I couldn’t help but wonder if the pedestrian paths had been the home to a regional dung-slinging competition.
Were so many dog owners SO inconsiderate that that the path had turned into a fecal slip and slide, where innocent victims would slip and fall face first, only to emerge from the park blinded by poo?
Did the Coucils of Fulham and Hammersmith join forces to create a blinding laser that fries out the retinas of careless, local dog owners?

Stumped, I asked Google.

As it happens, this seems to be just another example of how Health & Safety laws have gotten a bit out of hand.

According to the BBC, the threat of blindness is due to a form of toxocariasis. This article from June 2008 says that, “there are, on average, twelve cases per year.”

Whatever the reason, those signs are clearly working. The path was completely clean, despite there being numerous dogs out.

If you have any doubts about the existence of the signs, you can see the faint remains of the sunbleached logo of the Boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham near the nail at the bottom. I’m mostly impressed that the sign contains what I believe are lines representing wafting odor. My husband claims that they represent steam. Either way, it represents a fine attention to detail.


2 thoughts on “Blinded by Mess

  1. Wow, that’s horrible. When I was growing up, dog poo was a common issue in the neighborhood. There was one park at the opposite end of my street that seemed to have everyone in the surrounding area bringing their dogs to take a dump.You couldn’t walk on that side of the street because of the smell. I couldn’t imagine the horror of falling in any of that stuff…Honestly, if I caught someone else’s animal pooping on my lawn or backyard it would be tasered and/or trapped, then turned in to the local animal kennel.Dm

  2. Yeesh! Fortunately, the path was perfectly clean, and the horrid scenarios I proposed were all just my awful theories as to what would prompt so much signage. Things is, England is all about safety gear. I wasn't kidding when I said everyone wears flourescent green to be visible. They call it, "hi-viz". I keep meaning to devote a post to the frequency of it by taking a picture of each person i see wearing it for a whole day. In the states, my cycling jacket was black… not bright yellow! A workmate of mine referenced an article he read recently about Health & Safety rules gone mad where workmen were sent on an educational course on how to use a ladder correctly and were awarded a certificate for successful completion. Culturally, it's just different. In the US you see signs saying to pick up after your dog, but not because the threat of being one of the 12 people each year who gets toxocariasis is present.My understanding is that toxocariasis isn't something you get from people don't picking up after their dogs on a path…. this is the sort of stuff that affects people who have many, many pets and don't clean up after them, even when they mess in the house. (disclaimer: I work for a bank. I am not a physician.)

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