“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated” - wisely quoted by Mahatma Gandhi.
Today we are going to address a problem that a lot of cities have and it is quite difficult to solve: how to harmonize, how to balance the life between citizens and pets? We know there is a tendency of couples not having kids anymore. They are preferring to have pets instead of children and these pets have to share the urban space with us. To have an idea about this problem, just in the US there are more than 80 million dogs registered. So you can imagine the dimension of the problem in having all these dogs on the streets producing daily more than 30 tons of poops.
So how solve this problem in a smart and a democratic way? This is not only a city cleaning but mainly a public health problem, since 1 gram of poop can contain more than 23 million of bacterias.
Cities are dealing with this problem in different ways. The USA, Spain, Israel and Ireland have already a Dog DNA Database to analyze the excrements, crossing info and identifying the owners of the dogs. Some cities have also tried in the past to ban dogs from the streets, but all measures do not really solve the problem. In Smart city we need to harmonize relationships.
We visited a very nice solution in Rovolon, a small italian city in the Veneto region. It was a PPP, public-private partnership, where the local government offered a NGO an area in a industrial part of the city to open a dog park. The project was already born with a very nice name: four-paws citizens and it is exactly the idea: to treat the dogs as a kind of city' stakeholder.
The NGO invested around 6.000 euros to build a modern and harmonic dog park. The park is divided in 2 main areas, a free of charge garden and a dog-club park, where the users pay a membership fee of 50 euros per year that helps the NGO to maintain the area. The members can use all the facilities that include: a swimming pool for dogs, cognitive devices, toys and a competive dog agility training course. Members can also get dog training from experts with special discounts.
The project was a big success and now is used not only by the local residents, but also by members from other cities 45 km far from the city (what for italian countryside standards it is quite far). The NGO also develops several social activities with kids and senior citizens to promote this harmonic relationship.
Check the video (also available with Italian subtitles) and give us your opinion.