An iron column traffic light in Suzuka City, Mie Prefecture, has proved to be no match for the potty habits of neighborhood pets. Years of damage from dog urine caused the structure to collapse early this year with local officials now calling on residents to find a more suitable location for their pets to take care of business.
Although no one was hurt when the traffic light suddenly snapped from its base in February, local police launched an investigation. The structures are designed to last about 50 years, but this one broke just 23 years after installation.
Investigators found a high concentration of urea in the underground foundations, which was 42-fold urea compared to other traffic lights nearby. They also detected 8-fold of the substance around the column edge.
Police noted that the surrounding area was part of a popular dog-walking course. When a new traffic light was installed, it also became a prize urinating spot for dogs.
“Even if the amount of urine is just a little, the repetition over a long period, can damage public infrastructure and cause it to collapse,” warns officer Koji Takahashi, who serves in the traffic management and control division of the prefectural police.
He is calling on dog owners to help their pets find other places to urinate: “We want them to look at alternatives, like encouraging their animals to pee before they go for a walk.”
But dog owners are confused by the advice. Many say the whole point of taking their pets for a walk is to let them pee outside.
“It’s difficult to immediately stop my dogs from urinating there,” says one owner who regularly passes through the intersection where the traffic light went down.