In the same way apps can deliver food or drive people home, the American app Scoopers lets users hire people to pick up their dog poop.
Scoopers deliver waste removal services and clients pay after the pickup is complete. Interested consumers can choose from an array of subscription-based plans with services spanning 14 U.S. cities.
Though the app has less than 20 reviews on the Apple Store, the premise is reminiscent of an interesting problem here in Prague — the growing concern over dog poop.
Data released in 2016 from the Berlin-based insurance company Coya analyzed the 50-best dog cities in the world, with metrics based on the number of veterinarian clinics in the area, availability of dog-friendly restaurants, etc. Prague was named number four, surpassed only by San Francisco, USA, Seattle, USA, and Tel Aviv, Israel.
The Czech Republic overall ranks third for countries in the EU for dogs ownership per household — that means over 40% of households in the nation own at least one dog.
Living in the capital of such a canine-friendly country brings its respective concerns. Namely, how to take care of all the dog droppings from so many pups residing in one place.
In March of 2019, Prague 3 launched a campaign to remedy the issue of dog poop in public, threatening pet-owners with fees of 10,000 CZD for failing to clean up after their canine companions. Such fines have existed but were rarely enforced.
At the time, Prague 3 Mayor Jiří Ptáček had this to say of the campaign: “The situation with dog droppings on the pavements in Prague 3 is unbearable. We have to start solving it.”
The poop problem has not subsided since. In 2020, City Hall officials in Prague 8 say registered dogs were expected to produce more than 180 tons of dog poop in that neighborhood.
One Reddit user noted the issue in a dog ownership thread on r/Prague, stating the following: “I find there are quite many irresponsible dog owners — a lot of them let their dogs (big or small) off-leash in the middle of the city and some have no control of them. There are dog poops everywhere (that’s an exaggeration but I’ve stepped on other’s dog poop at least 10 times this year).”
The issue, according to Kateřina Maršálová from Prague 6, is more or less an attitude one. “People often mistakenly believe that if they pay fees for a dog, the city should take care of the cleaning. However, the fees do not cover the cleaning costs by far.”
An app like Scoopers could prove helpful to curb the dog waste dilemma, but there is no certainty people will subscribe to the concept, especially if the root of the issue, as Maršálová suspects, ties back to the idea that dog fees should cover clean-up as well.