ANIMAL WASTE COLLECTION
This invention relates to apparatus particularly but not exclusively for use in collecting animal droppings and other waste matter.
It is a well-known problem that where animals, particularly dogs and cats, are exercised freely out of doors, they tend to leave behind them collectively a very considerable amount of excrement. Particularly in cities and public places, this excrement is not only a nuisance but is known to carry disease and children have been known to suffer unduly in some cases by blindness, resulting from contacting animal faeces.
Such fouling of pavements, sidewalks and public places is now a punishable offence in many towns and cities, and cleaning up and disposing of a dog's faeces is required by law.
To that end pet owners have sometimes used a plastic bag to assist in collecting the faeces without the need to come into manual contact with them and various means have been provided to hold the plastic bag. One problem with that method is that the dog owner needs to bend down close to the ground in order to pick up the pet's droppings, which in some cases requires undue physical effort and in other cases is objected to because of the unpleasantness of the nearness of the operation.
Other factors in this regard include the fact that prior proposals in this field have in many cases been relatively complicated to operate, such as requiring the use of both hands of the user, and there has also been a tendency in the case of some devices for the gathered material to be dropped after initial operation of the device.
Attempts have been made to overcome these objections by providing faeces collecting devices having a long reach in order to pick up a dog's droppings without stooping or coming into near contact therewith, and with other features, but
these proposals fall short of requirements in various ways.
British Patent Application 8914480.2, published as GB 2233218A discloses a device for collecting animal excrement which includes a battery operated fan to create a suction effect in order to draw excrement into a container and retention device. This arrangement is complicated, unacceptably heavy and requires maintenance in the form of battery charging or replacement and is consequently unduly expensive to make and maintain.
US patent 4078838 discloses a long-handled tubular device having a plunger or piston which grips the closed end of a plastic bag. Pulling on the end of a piston rod fixed to the plunger is said to withdraw the plastic bag into the tube. The suction thus created together with a dragging effect of the plastic bag withdraws the faeces and the bag into the tube. With this arrangement it is difficult to assemble the plastic bag into the plunger and furthermore if the excrement is not all withdrawn into the bag in one operation, then the bag and its contents have to be unloaded and replaced by a second bag.
An pbject of the present invention is to provide a method and apparatus for picking up waste matter, such as pet droppings, which is simple and uncomplicated to operate and/or permits one-handed operation and/or incorporates improved means for retention of picked-up matter and/or requires little or no maintenance and/or is inexpensive to manufacture and/or provides improvements generally therein.
In accordance with the invention there is provided a device for picking up animal and other waste matter, and a corresponding method, as defined in the accompanying claims.
In a described embodiment, a device for picking up waste matter comprises means for applying suction to, or creating a partial vacuum within, a hollow tubular member, whereby the waste matter is sucked into the tubular member. The suction is applied by slidable plunger means reciprocatable within a first or upper chamber. The latter chamber is connected to
a second or lower chamber to which the suction is applied. The lower chamber has an open end for receiving the waste matter. A plastic bag or like sheet material envelope is placed over the open end of the lower chamber and extends into the chamber. The bag has perforations to allow the suction or partial vacuum to be transmitted into the interior of the bag during use. Thus, in use, a partial vacuum is created within the bag whereby the waste matter is drawn into the bag in the lower chamber.
A disposable one-way device is mounted at the open end of the lower chamber. The one-way device permits the waste matter to pass through it and into the bag within the lower chamber, while preventing the waste matter from subsequently dropping back.
The provision in a suction type waste matter collection device of a perforated matter collection envelope permits the creation within the envelope of a partial vacuum and the actual suction into the envelope of the waste matter. Previous proposals have been unable to create suction or a partial vacuum within the collection envelope.
Likewise, the provision of a disposable one-way device through which the waste matter passes, and which permits the passage therethrough of air for the suction of waste matter into the collecting envelope enables the collected matter to be safely retained, while not interfering with the proper action of the suction device. By constructing the one-way device of paper or plastics sheet material so as to be disposable, the advantages of direct and effective action on the matter to be collected are combined with economy and simplicity.
In the described embodiment, the plunger is arranged to be actuated by stored energy means in the form of a compression spring whereby single-handed operation is rendered possible. Compression of the spring stores energy whereby, on release, the plunger creates suction and a partial vacuum as described above, without the need for any appreciable
mechanical input from the user. It would even be possible to provide holding means to retain the spring in its compressed condition for subsequent release when desired, for certain applications. In this way, simple one-handed operation of the device is rendered possible.
Various embodiments of an animal waste collecting device in accordance with the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which :
Figs l, 2 and 3 are section views of one embodiment of the invention in various stages of operation;
Fig 1A is a scrap section view of a modification of part of Fig 1;
Fig 4, 5 and 6 are section views of a second embodiment;
Fig 7 is a perspective view of a collecting bag for use with the device, and
Fig 8 is a perspective view of an excreta retaining device for use in co-operation with the collecting bag.
In the embodiment seen in Figs 1, 2 and 3 a device 2 comprises a tubular member 4 having a bell mouth 6. A transverse plate 8, retained in position by suitable circlips 10, separates the tubular member into upper and lower cylinders 12 and 14 respectively.
A second tubular member 16 having an internal diameter somewhat greater than the external diameter of the tubular member 4 is located co-axially and around that tube, the difference in diameters defining a passageway 18.
The uppermost end of the tubular member 16 is formed with a shoulder 19 and a plate 20 is located against that shoulder, being retained in position by a circlip 22. The uppermost end of the tubular member 16 is also enlarged in diameter to form a canister 24, closed by a screw cap 26.
A rod 28 depends downwardly from the plate 20 and is formed at its lower end as a piston 30 which fits closely within the upper cylinder 12 of the tubular member 4. A compression spring is located between the piston 30 and the
plate 8 within the cylinder 12 and the plate 8 is formed with a one-way valve 34. A similar one-way valve system 36 is provided on the piston 30 and an inturned lip 38 at the uppermost end of the tubular member 4 retains the piston within the cylinder 12.
In the alternative arrangement seen in Fig 1A, the piston 30 is fitted with a cup-washer which eliminates the need for a one-way valve.
A plastic bag 40, seen clearly in Fig 7, is formed with tails 42 at its open end 44 and towards a closed end 46 is provided with a number of small diameter perforations 48.
An excreta retaining device 50, seen clearly in Fig 8 is formed with an outwardly and upwardly extending rim portion 52 and an inwardly and upwardly extending cone portion 54 slit severally at 56 to allow passage therethrough, in one direction in the manner of a one-way valve, of excreta during operation of the device.
The canister 24 at the uppermost end of the tubular member 16 may be used to conveniently store and carry a supply of bags 40 and retaining devices 50 as illustrated in Fig 1.
In use, a bag 40 is inserted into the cylinder 14 with the perforated closed end uppermost and the tails 42 are turned outwardly and upwardly around the bell mouth 6. A retaining device 50 is then placed over the bell mouth, the cone portion 54 being inserted within the open end of the bag 40 and the rim 52 being positioned around the outside of the bell mouth. The bag and the retaining device are both retained in position by an elastic band 58.
The device is then placed with the bell mouthed end over the offending dogs droppings as seen in Fig 1 and pressure is applied to the topmost portion via the cap 26. This causes the piston to compress the spring 32 and air which was present in the cylinder 12 passes through the one-way valve 34 in the plate 8 being closed. The air flows in the direction of the arrows A through the passageway 18 between the tubular members 4 and 16, exhausting to atmosphere as indicated by the arrows
Release of manual pressure on the cap 26 allows the spring 32 to return the piston to its original position towards the uppermost end of the tubular member 4. This creates a partial vacuum within the cylinder 12, drawing air upwardly through the perforations 48 in the bag 40 and through the open one-way valve 34 in the plate 8. The vacuum effect thus created in the bag 40 sucks the animal droppings D through the slit conical member 54 into the bag 40 where it is retained by the one-way valve effect of the retaining membe .
When the droppings have all been collected, the bag and retaining member, complete with collected droppings, are removed and disposed of in a suitable bin, the tails 42 being tied together to close the open end of the bag to retain its contents.
In the alternative embodiment shown in Figs 4, 5 and 6, a short tubular member 104 having a bell mouth 106 is closed at its upper end by an end plate 108 which is provided with a one-way valve 134. A convoluted tube 116 is secured at its lowermost end to the end plate 108 and at its uppermost end to a flange 127 on a rod 128.
One-way valves 136 are provided in the convoluted tube and the operation of removing and collecting pets droppings D is performed as in the previous embodiment, except that the vacuum suction effect is created by first pressing down on the rod 128 to expel air from the convoluted tube 116 through the one-way valves 136 whilst the valve 134 is closed. Release of pressure on the rod 128 allows the convoluted tube to revert to its original position drawing air through the perforations in the bag and through the one-way valve 134, thus sucking the pet droppings D through the retaining member 50 into the plastic bag 40 as previously described with respect to the first embodiment.
With the device according to the invention animal droppings and other waste matter may be removed from the
ground without the need for the user to stoop low and whilst operating the device with one single hand. Furthermore, the device is simple to operate and may be repeatedly actuated until the retaining and storage bag is full.
If so desired the top part of the tubular member 16 of Figs 1, 2 and 3 and of the rod 128 of Figs 4, 5 and 6 may be in the form of a walking stick handle.