Politician moots dog-poop patrol for welfare recipients
Berlin residents receiving Germany’s Hartz IV welfare benefits should be made to enforce dog poop rules, Green party city parliamentarian Claudia Hämmerling said on Tuesday.
“What’s lying on the sidewalks and paths is disgusting,” the 56-year-old told daily Bild. “Public space should no longer be used as a sewer.”
Instead, some 20 welfare recipients per district should be appointed to check up on dog owners and ensure they are cleaning up after their pets.
“Instead of paid unemployment, people should be engaged in public service,” Hämmerling told the paper.
While the politician is likely to garner heavy criticism for her suggestion, dog piles are no small problem in the German capital city.
Up to 50 tonnes of pooch poop blankets the city's 4,000 kilometres of public sidewalks and squares each day, city sanitation services spokesperson Bernd Müller told daily Die Welt on Tuesday.
Hämmerling isn’t the first politician to suggest such controversial measures to employ those on the dole.
In February the FDP boss and vice-chancellor Guido Westerwelle declared that those young and healthy enough should be forced to do community work – possibly in the form of shovelling snow – or face an end to their benefits.
The FDP leader said at the time that much of Germany had been covered with snow and ice for weeks, preventing many old people from leaving their homes.
"The city could send young people living on benefits to clear the pavements," Westerwelle told Bild. "Life can be this practical, but large sections of the political class have distanced themselves from such ideas."
Westerwelle also criticised the fact that only 2.6 percent of people on benefits are facing sanctions, although some surveys estimate that over 20 percent abuse the system.