I wrote a letter to my local council about people who exercise their dogs in fenced off, dog free, children's playgrounds.
The Smith Reserve is between my house and my son's daycare centre, so we often stop to play in the fenced off playground. Unfortunately, despite the "No Dogs" signs, more than half of the times we want to stop to play, there is someone with at least one dog off it's lead inside the fenced off play area.
Kids put their hands in their mouths and near their faces all of the time, and they pick up everything.
Kids who crawl might as well be licking the soles of shoes when they put their hands in their mouths, so I am concerned, not just about what I can see on the ground, but what has been on the ground.
I love dogs and so does my infant son, but I am also aware of the health issues involved with exposing young children with undeveloped immune systems to e.coli, worms and other bacteria and disease.
When I have confronted the dog owners about having their dogs in the "No Dogs" area, they have become confrontational, saying that they clean up the droppings and leave if they are asked to. I feel that they are missing the point.
A man this week couldn't even make one of his dogs come when he called it after I demanded that he remove his dogs from the playground. He also became angry at me for pointing out that it is always a dog free area, not just when children are around. I shouldn't have to have these confrontations, nor should my son have to witness them. Incidentally, the man took a while to leave as each of his dogs had defecated. Credit to him for cleaning it up, but again, they shouldn't be in there to defecate at all.
I imagine that the council is aware of health risks to children, and that is one of the main reasons dog free areas have been designated. I know from research and from having dogs myself that picking up droppings only removes the visible evidence. Traces of droppings remain on grass and tan bark, not to mention urine that a child can stand/sit/crawl/lie in. It only takes a trace to pass on e.coli or worms or any number of other microbes.
I can't be the first person who has raised this as an issue. Is there anything other than signage that the council can do address this issue?