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

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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  1. OMG….the trees being planted in brooklyn is encouraging owners to leave their dog poop all over the place. Benson avenue between 23rd ave and Bay 32nd is LITTERED with it now!

  2. The most consistent offenders are (1) people with small dogs (2) people who have self esteem problems and think they are too good to clean up their dogs’ mess.

  3. It is because of them I turn on my cellphone’s flashlight while walking at night (does anyone else do this?); otherwise I would be stepping on poop in the dark.

  4. The purpose of the trees is to replace all the ones we lost to Dutch Elm disease, Japanese beetles and storms over the years. Brooklyn’s streets used to be nicely tree-lined. Also, trees filter the air, providing nice clean oxygen to offset the pollution of the city. Lots of benefits to having trees on the sidewalks.

    (I say all of this because these are the official reasons, and they are all logically and scientifically sound. I, however, HATE the maple tree in front of my house, so count me as a NIMFY (Not In My Front Yard). The tree sucks all of the water out of my yard – not even weeds grow in the dirt in front of my house. Its roots cracked and invaded my sewer line, flooding my basement, and costing me $15,000 to have the sewer line replaced (the job was finished the day before Sandy, and the basement stayed dry as a bone). And let’s not talk about time necessary for autumn raking and gutter cleaning.)

  5. Should we BBQ Dog;

    Dog owners “never” pick up their dogs crap. This is a very true statement.

    These owners may carry their little bags and try to look politically responsible but still never pick this mess up.

    So your dog defecates on a lawn, sidewalk etc. and you do your best to scoop it up. How disgusting, a warm fresh pile of smelly crap separated by a thin mil of plastic, you look so respectable as you do this. The problem is you don’t get out a brush with soap and water then scrub the area of defecation so of course there’s going to be a huge amount of particles of feces left. I highly doubt any of these dog owners would allow their infant child to play in that exact spot if knowing a dog had just pooped there as they know there’s always some trail ends left over. And for dogs urinating everywhere it decides, this is just as bad.

    I lived on the beach, a wonderful lifestyle which people strive for however I was forced to move away only because of dog owners.

    Once on the beach and even though against the law “EVERY” dog owner allowed their dog to run free believing regardless of the law they had the right to do so. With this their dog would piss everywhere and where one dog would piss another one would. Day by day and month over month these dogs would piss in one spot on my retaining wall until the ocean breeze I paid for no longer smelled of the ocean but of dog urine which permeated my home. I didn’t have a dog but my home smelled like dog piss. Out of my own pocket I bought expensive products that didn’t work while the dogs still pissed. I couldn’t even leave my door open as these dogs would find their way into my home. If I asked the owners to control their dogs they’d suggest it was my fault for leaving my door open and get violent, once I was even assaulted for asking.

    So for all you dog owners, who infringe your disgusting filthy lifestyle on others I say this, carry your brush, spray bottle and towels, obey the laws and respect others. You and your dog don’t own the right to defecate and urinate on public or private property, purchase urine products and spray the area after “your dog” pees so other dogs don’t spray the same area. I am writing a petition to hand to the state legislature in hopes of strengthening the dog laws and fines and I only hope you owners learn your dogs are not so precious to everyone.

    To me I honestly think there are too many dogs and instead of killing these creatures we should take lessons from other countries which make meals of them. They’re no different than any other of those we hunt for food with the exception we grow attached however some people grow attached to pigs, chickens, birds and even ducks but any of those can be found on the tables of many American restaurants so why not BBQ K9. Maybe that should be the punishment for infringement.

  6. Now we know who has been poisoning dogs. You’re a fan of the Yulin dog eating festival, aren’t you? You’re Asian, aren’t you? Dog owners cannot walk with all the items you listed, plus walk their dog(s). They’ll need more arms or an assistant for that. Most of the U.S. loves dogs, which is why, THANKFULLY, animal cruelty laws are getting harsher. If you don’t like it, go to China or another country where eating anything that has blood running through its veins is the norm. In the U.S., although other animals are eaten, dogs are not. Yes, it is hypocritical because, as you mentioned, other animals people get attached to are eaten. However, fortunately for dog lovers, dogs are spared. Again, if you don’t like it move to a country where eating dogs is acceptable.

  7. How about we just BBQ you instead. I’ll gladly feed your carcus to the animals you hate so much. Either that or you could always kill yourself, just let me know where grave will be located so my dog shits all over you asshole.

  8. I am a dog owner and i pick up after my dog every single time she takes a dump no matter what and a dog is much more of a decent being then half of.the humans that inhabited this world

  9. Let’s not be so quick to jump to conclusions and attribute race because of stereotypes. For all we know he could be a non-Asian who is annoyed about dog owners’ not doing their responsibility to pick up after their pets. It is true that certain owners around here do not pick up after their dogs. This is a nuisance for pedestrians to maneuver around excrement. I think that if dog owners really love their pets, they would not mind picking up and disposing their waste.

    In regards to killing dogs and turning them into barbecue, I personally am against that, and I am Asian myself. I think the Yulin Festival is a horrible celebration and that the Chinese government should pass legislation to stop it. The person who posted the barbecue comment might have just said it out of anger (cannot speak for him though). However, he does have a point in that Westernized people have a sentimental attachment to what is a source of protein in non-Western countries. It all just ultimately comes down to completely different cultures.

  10. If you know where these filthy people live pick up the waste in a bag & smear it on their door or car handle & maybe they’ll get the message.

  11. LOL.

    I have two friends who volunteered for the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association (BCA)’s neighborhood cleanup recently; one of them said that although there was not much that much garbage around here, there was plenty dog poop (that they cannot clean up). It obviously shows that this is actually a big problem…why do people have the common sense not to throw that much litter on sidewalks, but they do not hesitate to leave dog crap behind? It is a baffling thing.

  12. Can we file a case to put those irresponsible dog owners in jail? Coz i really hate them. Their dog always making dirt in front of my gate.

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