Ilaria Caprioglio, mayor of Savona in the northwestern Liguria region, passed a measure decreeing that the central streets and arcades were “not to be used for the physiological needs of dogs”.
The decree was introduced at the request of traders working in the historic centre of Savona, home to around 6,000 canines, after “too many acts of incivility by the owners of dogs who leave excrement on the ground”, Il Sole 24 Ore reported.
Anyone found in violation of the ordinance could face a fine of between €50 to €500. Caprioglio said the money received in fines would go to maintenance of local kennels and dog parks, and told Savona News the council would consider extending the regulation to cover all streets and pavements in the municipality.
"We want Savona to be more and more suitable for four-legged friends, but first and foremost a clean, welcoming and decent city for residents and tourists," she said.
Many of Italy's national papers have reported on the new rule, with many describing it as a ban on dogs themselves. Because dogs tend to do their business when and where they need to, several publications have argued that in practice this bans residents from walking their dogs in the area.
According to the mayor, however, dogs are still permitted to relieve themselves on streets -- not pavements -- as long as their owners immediately clean up the mess. Any excrement left on roads, squares, or gadens must be collected and disposed of, and the ordinance also calls on owners to wash away their dogs' urine using water.
This clarification hasn't stopped fierce backlash on social media, and the local branch of animal rights' organization ENPA has planned a protest rally for Saturday afternoon.
The organization said that although it had “asked for constructive dialogue to change the order so that it is less punitive and more effective, the mayor speaks only in newspapers”, and further criticized the municipality for not yet publishing the text of the decree on its website so that dog owners can read up on the exact rules.
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