If you ever visit Spain, you will notice one very distinct and unpleasant feature about it – there is dog poop everywhere on the city streets. So wherever you walk, you have to be very careful not to step on the field mine. Cause they are literally everywhere.

When I first arrived to Alicante, a nice Costa Blanca town on the south eastern coast of Spain, I noticed it immediately, and was appalled by dog poop everywhere on the sidewalks. I thought it was just this city’s problem.

It turns out that this is a national problem in Spain. Barcelona, Madrid… The city authorities in these cities have been fighting this problem for years, coming up with more and more creative ways to make dog owners clean up after their pets.

After fruitless repeated public awareness campaigns and distribution of millions of free bags to collect dog excrements, the city hall decided to take some extreme measures. Now the dog owners will have to perform street cleaning duties for a few days or pay a fine of up to €1’500 ($1’800) for not cleaning up after their pooches.

Several Spanish cities have come with creative ways to fight this problem.

For instance, the city in the north east of Spain, Tarragona, uses DNA data of the dog droppings to track the addresses of the dog owners who fail to clean up after their dogs and sends bills with the fines to the owners in mail.

A small city of Brunete came up with a more interesting idea. Volunteers would strike up a conversation with the violators of dog walking etiquette in the parks to find out their pet’s name and breed, which would allow the city authorities to find their address from a registered pet database. And then they would deliver the boxes with dog poop to the owners marked “Lost Property.”

Another small town has created public toilets for the dogs on its main street as an experiment.