It's a Dog's Life for Strollers

photo: cafe rue du temple
It wasn't cold, so it must have been before lunch
for this empty terrace.

Paris' Countermeasures May Include 'Repression'

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 18. January 1999:- For the first time a couple of readers have recently written to comment on the state of Paris' sidewalks. 'Yuk!' sums up their opinions. Since this magazine has been going a fair while and these were the first complaints, I did not take them too seriously.

After all, we live in downtown Europe here; mostly in apartment buildings, which are often right in the city's centre. Lots of people have dogs as pets. Just as few toilets are made for little children; practically none are made for dogs. I have no idea why this doesn't occur to prospective owners before they acquire their animal companions.

It seems to me as if the situation is better than it was 20 years ago. Either that, or I've acquired a seventh sense which enables me to avoid strange encounters without thinking about it too much.

As usual, I am probably wrong. The city itself thinks it is threatened by 'dog pollution.' The situation is 'unsatisfactory,' despite all the human, financial and technical efforts tried, abandoned or adopted, by the Ville de Paris.

They have 70 'off-road' motorcyclist pooper-scoopers - 'caninettes' - roaring around the Champs-Elysées and other boulevard sidewalks, and doggy directional signs have been painted on curbs, pointing at the gutters. Currently undergoing testing are devices with the names of 'canicanins,' 'trottcanins' and 'airecanin.'

The street-cleaners are in the act too as they sluice away 2,400 kms of Paris sidewalks, one or more times a week.

Dogs are allowed in some Paris parks - pay attention! - and some of these are equipped with 'sani-canins,' whichphoto: avenue wagram sound more numerous and practical than arrangements for people. Park workers also have bags to hand out to dog owners, and there are special receptacles for their disposal.

The Avenue de Wagram, without a dog in sight.

In the thirteenth arrondissement, the city is trying out 15 special 'watchmen,' who are supposed to advise animal lovers about etiquette - and certain laws - if necessary. Three gardens in the city are also the locations of dog education by trainers, which appear to be free of charge.

With this small army in constant operation, the city is still not happy. In France, the enforcement of laws is not systematically automatic, as many visitors may have noticed.

So the city has engaged a gang of 'Cleanliness Inspectors' to seek out the hard-core individuals who willfully ignore the laws. In 1997, they handed out 625 tickets for infractions. Fines are as high as 3,000 francs are allowed by the Code Pénal.

However, the city is thinking of going yet a step further, by asking the - police! - to hand out tickets too. This then is serious; this signals that laws previously unenforced may probably be met with - 'repression!'

'Repression' is a French word used to designate what happens when laws are enforced. The French are not fond of 'repression' and since the police are French, they are not fond of it either.

Getting tough on dog lovers may remain a preserve of the city's 'Cleanliness Inspectors,' who seek only one infraction: 'les crottes.' Of course, there is only an infraction after the deed is done, so watch your step.

Tocqueville This Week

This week's 'The Tocqueville Connection/a>' has its usual excellent coverage of French affairs, seen as always with its Franco- American outlook. Bordeaux prices are too high and Airbus is too high for Boeing.

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