The Taipei City Government has acknowledged the failure of its open-air toilets for dogs in public parks, after residents criticized the fixtures as being a waste of money and eyesores.
The city’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Parks and Street Lights Office installed four such toilets since 2009, each costing up to NT$6,000, in Zhongshan District’s (中山) Lixing Park No. 3, Beitou District’s (北投) Linong Park, Wanhua District’s (萬華) Youth Park and Nangang District’s (南港) Nangang Park, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported.
The office said the facilities, which resembled child-friendly toilets, were designed for dogs to relieve themselves and for owners to flush away excrement.
After receiving an anonymous complaint calling the dog toilets “incredibly lousily designed,” Taipei City Councilor Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) of the Democratic Progressive Party recently took a friend’s dog to Nangang Park to check out the facilities, the paper said.
The dog toilet had been set up next to the park’s tennis court, but dried-up dog feces could still be found nearby.
“When my friend’s dog saw the toilet, its first instinct was to drink from it. I tried to put it on the toilet, but it quickly jumped off and found itself a tree to urinate on instead... If the city government intends to designate an outdoor dog potty area at parks, sand pits would be a more appropriate choice,” the newspaper quoted Hsu as saying.
A Nangang resident surnamed Huang (黃), who often plays tennis in the park, said he rarely saw dogs using the facility or pet owners flushing dog excrement down the toilet.
Another resident surnamed Kao (高) praised the city government for its creativity, but said the open-air toilet disfigured the park’s scenery.
A woman surnamed Chan (詹), who owns a Labrador retriever, said dog toilets were a bizarre idea and that disposal baskets for dog feces would be a better option.
Parks and Street Lights Office Secretary-General Lan Shu-fan said the usage rate for the toilets was unexpectedly low, so the city would not install more of them, but would seek to address the pet waste problem in parks by stepping up its cleaning and efforts to promote responsible pet ownership instead.