Western Brooklyn

What To Do About Dog Owners Who Don’t Pick Up Poop?

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Curb Your Dog
Photo by Bensonhurst Bean

There’s no delicate way to say this, but the newly melted snow has left us to deal with some gross surprises — AKA abandoned dog poop.

Ah, irresponsible dog owners: not a new topic among our readers, but still a group who makes walking down the street a little more terrifying for everyone (including the good dog owners who do pick up the doo).

Dog waste left on the street is not only obnoxious and gross–it can also be dangerous, making its way into our water supply if not disposed of correctly.

If you’d like to know more about the city’s rules, or to report a complaint, you can check out the NYC Resources site.

If owners are blatantly ignoring signs, though, what are some other solutions for handling the problem? Is there any percentage of the carefree dog owner population that’s truly ignorant of the law (and apparently unfazed by dog waste on their own respective streets)–or is everyone who leaves his or her pooch’s crap lying around just being, er, crappy?

A silly but insightful article on the flawlessly named You Did What With Your Wiener narrows our suspicions down neatly with six reasons people might not pick up what their dogs leave behind:

1. They think dog poop is natural. It is not (especially in the quantities that are generated by our pets) and harms the environment and threatens public health

2. They think that picking up dog poop is gross

3. They forgot a bag

4. They don’t want to carry it with them

5. It’s not a law, or they don’t know it is a law (because it is in some places), so they think they don’t have to or it’s not that important

6. They are completely self-absorbed and think they are the only people on the planet (kidding…kind of. Ha, ha)

The author of the above article says she’s had success handing thoughtless dog owners bags as they’re walking away from the scene of the crime, making it clear she assumes they must have “forgotten” a bag of their own. This is nice, but of course entails carrying bags around at all times (not super difficult) and having the time, patience, and gumshoe skills to find owners in the act.

An even more “kill ’em with kindness”-type take on her tried and true method, she says, is sending an offender a monthly PoopBuddy package–although that will likely cost you more, and might not hit someone in the shame center as much as you’d hoped. Unless, perhaps, you sign it something like, “Love, All of your adoring neighbors on (street name).”

Another option might be starting an anti-inconsiderate dog owner Facebook page, or at least leaving up a particularly snarky note as opposed to a classic “Curb Your Dog” sign (see the notes on Facebook for some entertaining examples). But again, if anything’s going to get someone to change his or her poop scooping habits, it might not be a note one can just walk by or dismiss as being aimed at someone else.

Dog behavior guru Cesar Milan’s site also notes some fascinating ways people deal with abandoned dog poop across the world. For instance:

  • Rewarding owners who scoop with free public Wi-Fi in Mexico City (because your dog isn’t the only one who deserves a treat).
  • Mailing the offending pile back to the owner (in government packaging, none the less!) near Madrid–an initiative that sounds a bit over the top, but has reportedly reduced the amount of dog poop on the street by 70%.
  • One really nasty ad campaign in Bristol, England.

A commenter on the article adds that in Belgium, owners caught walking their dogs without at least three bags are automatically fined, whether or not there’s any waste to be found. Is this too harsh, or a sensible preventative method?

Anyway, what have you found is the best way to deal with less-than-stellar pooch owners in your neck of the woods? Any of the methods listed above? Any you haven’t tried yet, but are considering now that you’ve read about them? Or something else entirely? Do you approach the situation with the assumption the culprit must really not know what he or she is supposed to do, or do you think plain old rudeness is to blame?

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