Two mobile programmable audio systems developed by NUI Maynooth based company Riteview Solutions, have been installed on either side of the River Shannon in Limerick City.
Dog owners who pass the audio devices along the city boardwalk will trigger a message stating: "'Do your bit to keep Limerick clean. Stop Limerick Dog Litter. Use Any bag any bin - please pick up after your dog."
The Council says it will relocate the devices currently operating in the city area to other areas throughout Limerick during the coming months, and that it is considering the option of installing additional devices elsewhere.
Mayor of Limerick Cllr Kathleen Leddin has welcomed the new initiative, adding: "'It is wonderful to see the bond between a dog and its owner. Dogs are such wonderful companions but unfortunately they cannot clean up after themselves. It really is important for dog owners to continue to become more responsible and to pick up their dogs litter considering dog waste is not only a nuisance but can also carry diseases which can be harmful to humans. I would urge dog owners to dispose of such litter in the nearest litter bin or dog fouling bin."
Aidan McDermott of Riteview Solutions, the company behind the audio devices, stated: "Based at NUI Maynooth, our company evolved from an EPA project examining how technology can complement environmental enforcement and awareness initiatives around the country. The audio devices we have developed are particularly suitable for raising awareness in relation to dog litter and we are delighted to have been engaged by Limerick City and County Council on this initiative."
The initiative has also been welcomed by the Limerick City Tidy Towns Committee, which regularly undertakes clean-ups throughout the city in conjunction with the local authority.
Group representative, Maura O'Neill of Keogh Somers commented: "This is a fantastic development that will help keep our streets and green areas clean by encouraging dog owners to take greater responsibility. Dog litter is at the top of people's mind as the worst form of litter and these audio devices help to spread the message that allowing dogs to foul in a public area and then not picking it up is simply unacceptable."
Sinead McDonnell, Environment Awareness Officer, Limerick City and County Council explained there are a number of simple ways in which dog owners can help keep public areas dog litter free.
She explained: "Pooper scoop bags are available in supermarkets, pet shops and in some of the euro/deal shops. Dog litter bags can be bought as cheaply as €1.00 for 100. People may also use nappy sacks, reused plastic bags or something similar. Limerick City & County Council provides bags to dog walkers in Public Parks, have installed a number of dispensers in Parks around Limerick, and also reminds dog owners at renewal licence times to clean up after their dog."
Ms. McDonnell added: "Tidy Towns Groups across Limerick have recently been supplied with a long handled pooper scooper for community clean ups compliments of local company, Maxi Zoo. Ideally, Tidy Towns Groups would not have to clean up because dog walkers would clean up after their own dogs but the fact is although the situation is improving dog litter is something that still has to be cleaned up as part of most community clean-ups.”
"The message we are promoting is simple; always carry a bag to clean up after your dog. Failing to clean up after your dog is the same as littering and is an offence under the Litter Pollution Acts. There are now a wide range of options available to dog owners for cleaning up after their dogs. Check at your local vet, pet shop, supermarket or online," she concluded.