Several people in the Spanish village of Brunete may have been surprised to receive a foul-smelling package of dog poop in the mail. However, the putrid presents were no prank. In order to combat its considerable pet feces problem, the town mails dog poop back to the pet owners who left it behind, Europa Press reports.
The idea started out as a social awareness campaign last year. The town council of Brunete, a small municipality outside Madrid that is home to about 10,000 people, asked a top advertising agency to stage a public demonstration and circulate a video to encourage dog owners to be mindful of canine excrement, according to Spain's The Local.
In the video (seen below), motorized dog poop follows guilty pet owners with a sign that reads (in Spanish), "Don’t leave me, pick me up!"
"The amount of dog poo on our streets dropped considerably as a result. But as soon as the volume started rising again we knew we had to try an even more direct approach," a spokesman for the town told The Local.
So, the town enlisted 20 volunteers in February to keep an eye out for irresponsible pet owners and to strike up a conversation with any offenders in order to obtain the name of the pooch.
"With the name of the dog and the breed it was possible to identify the owner from the registered pet database held in the town hall," a spokesman told the Telegraph.
After 147 special deliveries were mailed to negligent pet owners in February, the reported sightings of dog excrement decreased by 70 percent in the town.
As El Pais notes, Brunete's dog poop crusade won an award last week at The Sun, a Latin American Advertising Communication Festival.
Brunete is not the only Spanish town to crack down on pets' abandoned feces. In 2011, the town council of Hernani, a village in northern Spain, approved a measure that requires dog owners to include a sample of their canine's DNA in their pet registration, the Telegraph notes. That way, if any piles of poo are discovered, the town can track down the pet owner responsible.