A recent letter to the editor in my local paper was on the topic of dog owners who do not clean up after their dogs. The title of the letter was, “Dog owners, please do the right thing.”
This letter failed on several levels and the parallels are such that I thought I offer to our readers as a reminder to keep their strategic messages on target and directed to the intended audience.
The article then leads with, “This article is intended for all irresponsible dog owners.” So, I shouldn’t read this, is that what the author is saying?
The article then goes on to read, “It seems to me the city has become a toilet for dogs. (In a court of law this would be objected to with a resounding, “That’s an opinion, not a fact.”) What is wrong with people. (And that’s just way too loaded a statement to include here!).
This writer then goes on to point out the amount of dog droppings they encounter on their daily walk with their dog. They point out this is disgusting and “really annoying to the rest of us who won dogs.”
So what’s the strategic message here? That these individuals should be embarrassed? If such individuals are so inconsiderate as to not clean up after their dogs, will they really be persuaded to do so by this attempt to embarrass them? I think not.
A better strategy, in my opinion, would be to target what these offenders have to lose if they don’t change their ways. In this case, that is the privilege of walking their dog and the risk to the health of both their dog and themselves and their family. I’d point out, “If you continue to not clean up after your dog, people will eventually complain and the city will respond by making it illegal to walk your dog in this area.” I also offer the risk to both their dogs and themselves. “When you and other dog owners don’t clean up your dog’s droppings your dog is at risk of stepping on them. Your dog could easily get sick from this and also could track excrement into your home and put yourself and your family at risk.”
I’d title the letter, “Dog Owners – Help keep the park open to dog walking and keep your dog and family healthy by cleaning up after your dog.”