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

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Curb Your Dog

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). A frustrated neighbor writes about the issue:

We have a big problem with [owners not cleaning up after their dogs] on E 17th between Beverly Rd and Albermarle Rd. It’s like playing hopscotch because every where you walk you have to watch your step.

The public school places signs asking the owners to be kind enough to clean it so the kids can have a clean environment, but now owners are letting their dogs poop on the other side of the street and leaving it there. Someone placed signs on the two trees but own owners are disregarding them.

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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 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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49 COMMENTS

  1. Ugh! This is a huge pet peeve of mine. My block on East 19th between Cortelyou and Beverley is horrible, constantly strewn with dog poop. I would welcome any solutions. It seems to appear at all hours of the day and night and I’ve rarely caught sight of an offender.

  2. I agree – dogs poop all over my front yard.
    I am actually thinking of putting up a fence to solve the problem.

  3. I learned one thing from this article–this isn’t a problem just in the U.S.
    My initial reaction is that if we can’t seem to do anything about responsible gun control in this country, what chance have we with poop control?
    I have however seen a small ray of hope. When I met my wife she had a dog; After she moved in I’d do the late night walking–mostly on 18th St. by the Prospect Expressway, and it seemed to be a designated drop-it-and-leave-it site.
    Some 16 years after Vista, and as (once again) a dog owner, things are significantly better. Why? I don’t think there are more handy waste receptacles. I think that social pressure has actually made things a bit better (as with lower smoking rates). So anything we can do to make inconsiderate, disgusting behavior socially unacceptable just might work–eventually.

  4. I’ve never caught anyone in the act. I always assumed it was the work of people who were passive aggressively resisting the work or chore of walking a dog they didn’t much care for.

  5. Couldn’t agree more. We are constantly finding poop in our yard and yesterday right in the middle of our driveway. We are on 17th between Cortelyou and Beverley. Once I saw the owner who just let her dog off the leash to go to the bathroom. When I asked her not to have her dog go on my yard, she completely denied it.

  6. We have a few dog owners who just let their dogs go off least, one on Dorchester and one on Argyle thjat I’ve seen. There’s also a heavyset Black woman who scoops it and leaves the bag of feces by the curb. I think those who don’t scoop the poop and bring it home to dispose of should be shot.

  7. This is the pinnacle of disrespect!
    If you have a dog , clean up after your dog. Cleaning up also means properly disposing of the bag, in the event you have the sense to pick up the crap. I also hate when dog owners put the bags in other people’s trash, especially recycling trash. There are so many people in this neighborhood who claim to be environmentalist, so how do you justify putting crap in with recycling???
    The other thing I don’t understand is why home owners have their dogs crap in other people’s yards and not their own. If I had a dog, I would have the dog crap in my yard not my neighbors. I remove crap from my yard all the time and I get so freaking angry about it. I don’t blame the dogs, I blame the nasty dog owners. Some people don’t need dogs!!!

  8. I’m a dog-owner who lives in an apartment building, and I walk my dog, Morgan, through Ditmas Park on a daily basis. I always clean up after her and have met a number of fellow dog-owners who do the same. It’s really disappointing when I see those who don’t—or the evidence they leave behind— for whatever reason.

    Dog waste isn’t the only problem, there is often food trash strewn across the yards. Part of the solution would be to place city garbage cans on some of the corners allowing for easier disposal of waste and food. (Oddly, there was one for a week or so which quickly disappeared.)

  9. The issue with the city garbage cans is that the homeowners are then responsible for the trash as the cans overflow. The city never empties them on a timely basis. I do agree with you on the litter situation as well. That is a hot button issue here too!

  10. Since we rarely see people ‘in the act’, maybe the answer is more eyes on the street. Once the weather warms up, some benches for people to hang out on would mean the offending dog owners would have fewer opportunities to escape unseen.

  11. Welcome to Poopmess Park. Sorry, couldn’t resist. While I’m sure many of these lovely surprises are from dogs, a couple of those turds are likely being left behind by some feral cats. While cats will be more discrete and attempt to bury their scat, there will always be those they leave as a surprise on your lawn or plants. They are very unlikely to place it in a bag or leave a nice one on a sidewalk, so you can safely assume those are some bad dog owners.

    Another good reason to get those feral cats fixed. Less poop surprises for all the homeowners over the long run.

  12. Don’t forget the raccoon and possum that show up every once in a while. Brooklyn still has some non-domesticated animals running about.

  13. Not everyone has a yard, bkforman. In fact, the majority of residents in this community do not have a private yard, or access to a shared one. I agree that if you are going to be a dog owner you need to clean up after your dog, but it’s absurd to think that only homeowners can or should have dogs.

  14. Good idea. The blog could have a contest to see who can take the most/best pics of the guilty parties, and post them here.

  15. Yuck!
    The “poopz” burn my front yard. Once there it attracts other dogs who then have to leave their scent, … and and and…
    I’m using predator urine, like “fox urine” which comes either dry or liquid, on it. Hunters use it.
    It does help; until the rain fall..
    My neighbor mixes a witches brew w/ (re)-crushed peppers, and other spicy items– while he claims it works and I no longer have a dog; I don’t want to hurt their delicate noses. And the other method seems to work for us.

    Any other ideas out there?

  16. Ownerless non domesticated animals have a valid excuse for not scooping their poop. Dog owners have absolutly no exuse and deserve an appropriate punishment such as having the poop thrown at them or put in their mailboxes or on their steps. This pollution of our community has to end.

  17. I totally agree that not everyone has a yard. I was specifically addressing homeowners. In either respect, there is still no excuse for not cleaning up after your dog.

  18. Joe, lives in the 6 fl. Building on the corner of E17th & Dorcester (had 5 Pomeranians now 4-always off the leash). He and his girlfriend Monica always have their dogs poop in front of other apartments or houses. When asked politely to pick up their dogs’ poop, first claims he will pick up after all 4 have pooped (we all know they don’t poop on command at the same place & time!). Then he resorts to racial slurs such as “chink” & even the n word!

  19. Why not give out their full names, apartment numbers, and full descriptions so that we can send out a gang of vandals with torches to correct the problem with a public spectacle – all based simply on your accusations? Really, Rounovski… Perhaps the readers of DPC would like to know a few specifics about you and your offensive actions in the community. It’s this kind of witch hunt crap that will ruin a once nice neighborhood like DP. How about we try a more neighborly approach to problem solving instead of naming names based on the accusations of the neighborhood gossip mongering busy-body.

  20. I am bracketed by home owners who don’t shovel their walks in the winter or care for their yard as I do. Over the winter months the exposed edges of grass where it meets the sidewalk is a poop heaven for the steady stream of dog owners who pass by my house. I have cleaned up so much Poop over the years that I can probably identify the type of dog doing it. But of course I never catch the culprits. This morning I was drinking my morning coffee and saw an owner with his Large German Shepard come onto a small part of exposed lawn just off the side walk. I stepped outside onto my front porch and yelled at the guy (while his dog was pooping) to have the dog go in the alley or at his own house before he walked him, and he began yelling back as well as producing a poop bag (which must give him a constitutional right to allow his dog to go anywhere). Somewhere in the middle of all that the dog tore up the sod with his paws and his owner offered up a departing expletive. Then my wife yelled at me how I handled it. I give up.

  21. I live at The Remington apartments on E. Fountain Blvd, Colorado springs the apartment I live in use to be the manager office but now is apartment off to its self and there is a dog run right there in front the apartments and runs from one end to right in front of my apartment , I have a patio yard with brick, mine my is a single private and the problems I’m having is the tenant’s brings there dogs out their to boop all over the place and will not pick it up, I have put a sign out there on the tree asking them to “Please pick up after your dog in this area, its nasty, looks bad and smell bad, and its right here at my porch . Its sign there already. I have complain to the manager and nothing still isn’t done about it. I can deal with them bringing there dogs out there because its public, buy why can’t they pick there dog shitt up (excuse the language). I am so tired of this, I have a 1 year old great grand daughter that have come to live with me but I cant let her come to play out there, right there at the edge of my porch, I have to pick that mess up, its disgusting, and nasty….what can I do about this, and its so many dogs in this apartment building its ridiculous, and I know all the dogs in the Remington apartments can’t all be registered

  22. I have this problem and have confronted the woman and everytime I get “oh I’m coming back with a bag to pick it up”…. my child has stepped in it repeatedly and ruined her shoes and my landlord thinks I’m not picking up after my dog (which my dogs droppings are larger in comparison and I always pick up after mine) and asked me to get rid of my dog because of it. I need a solution without causing a huge fight on my block. Anyone have any suggestions?

  23. Ugh my neighbour keeps leaving her dog’s poop out!! My roommate (who has a dog) has asked her multiple times to stop, I emailed and talked to management and I’ve tried to talk to her but she always leaves when she sees me coming. It got better for a few weeks but now this morning it’s back out on the lawn. Why?! Why does she do this? I’m so frustrated with her.

  24. Dig poop will get into our water supply. People have gotten so stupid. I have a question, who is picking up after all the squirrels, deers, raccoons, Fox’s, possums, chipmonks, armadilas, rats, rabbits, a wide range of reptiles and birds. Our water supply? Who is less intelligent the writer or editor?

  25. Oh come on people. Really? The issue is not where wild animals poop. Besides, their poop is so dilluted with bone, hair and other ingested fillers, that it is hardly comparable to domestic dog poop, which is pure disgusting, usually parasite, worm ridden waste.
    The issue is irresponsible, lazy, dis-respectful dog owners. This is why we have laws. These people who don’t use a leash, let their dogs poop in people’s yards and don’t pickup after them, need to be dealt with accordingly. Turn in un-leashed dogs. Give the County some much needed funds. As for poo detail? Plaster pictures of the offenders on the sign post with bags telling owners to clean up after their dogs. Shame, embarrass or fine the owners, don’t take it out on the dogs, it’s not their fault.

  26. My next door neighbor never picked up after her Shih Tzu and now she has a larger dog and it’s along our
    fence line – actually on our property ( part of the fence is 5 inch off property line) and some on the golf course property in back of our house. Flies have started to appear and it makes it very uncomfortable when I’m outside in our yard near the area with our dogs. The county refuses to help even though she is breaking numerous laws. I’m writing a letter to our Homeowner’s Assoc and if they refuse to help I’ll have no choice but to go to the local tv station for help. I live in Florida so in addition to the flies the smell will so be unbearable. BEING A RESPONSIBLE PET OWNER MEANS MORE THAN GIVING A PET FOOD AND WATER.

  27. I always pick up after my dog too. I always bring a bag. Except this ONE DAY when I didn’t have one. The problem is my dog pooped in some really tall grass and because he is on weight loss dog food, his poop doesn’t stink so I couldn’t find it. But of course the poop police showed up and scolded me. This is not cool. She couldn’t find the poop either. Do not assume because I didn’t pick it up this time that I never pick it up. She was condesending, rude and said I give dog owners a bad name. I want people to pick up after their dogs too but she went too far. Please don’t be mean to people if you are going to be the poop police.

  28. So what have I learned here. Absolutely nothing. Too bad I’m not a mobster, unafraid to stick a gun in the perpetrator’s face. I’m sure that would change the situation drastically.

  29. I am looking for actual laws on the books addressing pet owners, allowing their dog to poop on my lawn. I know there must be some communities who’ve successfully handled this situation. Please share.

    I moved to a lovely area on a beautiful street. There is one neighbor in particular, who walks her sweet beagle every day. I was surprised to catch her allowing her pooch to poop up on my lawn. So I confronted her and asked her to stop, and thankfully she did. Since then, I’ve caught her allowing the dog to poop on the green space between the sidewalk and the curb. When I confronted her, she responded , ‘well it’s between the sidewalk and the curb,’ as if to say, it’s perfectly legal to do that, or that is not considered my property. Is that so? Then I was meeting her next door neighbor and friend, and I asked as a newcomer about leash laws/poop pick up fines. She responded,”Oh we don’t do that around here.” I guess I have moved to a backward thinking area. So I would like to change the local laws to enforce poop pickup. How do I go about doing this? Thank you.

  30. Omg. Irritates me when people do not pick up their dog poop . I live in a small apartment complex and there is grass area
    There’s one family that has a 14 year old kid that does not pick up the poop. One night my daughter and I were coming home from dinner and we noticed some dog poop and the spotlight from the apartments was shining on it. My daughter and I were making a comment about the poop and laughing when the 14 year old boy was coming downstairs to dump his trash. We never mentioned a name or an apartment number we were just laughing about how the light was shining on the poop and how disgusting it is that people do not pick up after their animals. 10 minutes later I have the father pounding and pounding on my front door for me to get my butt outside and that was being nice he used all sorts of profanity cussing and swearing at me I closed the door and said I wasn’t home. He continued pounding and yelling until I open the door and then he made a threat that I needed to get my butt outside so he could talk to me. I went outside and I could not even talk to him because he was yelling his profanity at the top of his lungs then he got to one point where he put his fist to his palm and was pounding it near my face. He threatened to call the police and get a restraining order and I told him go ahead the thought for me to have him getting a restraining order was great because I would not have to get one.
    He continued to yell and his wife came outside doing the same thing so now you get what I’m dealing. I called the police so I can have a report and so they can go and speak to him. He must have had a guilty conscience because the poop was picked up. Why have an animal if you’re not going to pick up after themselves.

  31. Wow some of these comments are over-the-top! Why do people get so upset over part of their grass getting brown or something like that? And poop getting into our water supply? Where do you think the poop in your toilet goes? into your water supply. I have lived with dogs my whole life and I don’t freak out over dog poo. I think most of these comments come from people who don’t have/like dogs. Nobody likes POOP but come on, don’t make a huge deal about it if it happens occasionally.

  32. If it wasn’t a big deal to them why don’t they stay closer to their home.Why walk around the corner and go to where they think no one can see them? There is a woman who thinks she can bring her dog to the grass out side my property and let it go a few times a day.If it was just once when she was passing by I would understand.But everyday a few time .Enough is enough. I don’t hate dogs. In fact I have five big dogs that don’t leave my property but i still clean up every time i take them out.It is just what we are suppose to do. If this woman would just look around she would notice that I have cameras all around my home and plenty of video of what she is doing.These will be given to the sherriffs department and hopefully they will support the law here in charlotte county and fine her the five hundred dollars for each offence

  33. I have a neighbor that has 2 dogs & walks them all around the block but I have never seen him with a bag & he is the one leaving the site without picking it up. I just caught his dog pooping on MY YARD! and just walked away. My solution will be that I will pick it up throw it on his yard with a NOTE with my address so he knows who it came from. I don’t blame the dog. It is the responsibility of the owner to do so. I just had ENOUGH!! I just cannot believe they like to live in a neighborhood with poop around. Can you imagine inside his house? Ugh!

  34. LawManJeff – your wife is right, you’re totally in the wrong. Let the damn dog poop in peace. As long as the guy is picking it up, which he was, it doesn’t matter where the dog goes & you are just making an ass out of yourself.

  35. I am 75 years old, and a recent widow. I am recovering from major surgery. A neighbor is deliberately leaving gifts from a dog on my tree lawn, on a daily basis. If the dog doesn’t produce, old poop is provided. I am really, really tired, and also pretty scared. I have no idea why someone would do such a thing!

  36. I always used to pick up my dogs poop. Even if I ran out of bags, I went back right away to pick it up. Ever since I was vilified while picking up poop, I have stopped picking it up. They didn’t even see my dog poop, they only saw me picking it up. They said I shouldn’t let my dog poop on the side of the street. So, apparently since I’m just as bad when I pick the poop up, I don’t bother anymore. So you people that complain when you see people picking it up, you’re part of the problem.

  37. In our city there is a law that all dog waste must be picked up and disposed of. Dog owners are required to carry a poop bag and show it to the animal control officer upon request. In San Francisco, owners are required to carry THREE poop bags and if they don’t have them the fine is over $300.

  38. Some idiot with a baby in a pushchair followed me for 10 minutes and shouted at me to come here. I went up to him with my puppy and he said he saw my dog stop where the man saw some poo. He said it looked fresh and that my dog did it and i didnt clear it up. I said i always clean up after my dog, it wasn’t his- my dog stopped there because he was sniffing it. I said id clear it up if that would get him off my case, even though it wasnt mine. He didnt believe me so i walked off and called him an idiot. I am 13. If you dont know that it was someones falt, dont blame them.

  39. In all states, they must require all dog owners to have a license to own even the smallest toy dog so if a canine sanitation cop catches them in the act of leaving droppings, they can be identified and fined. If they don’t carry their license their dog should be impounded like driving without a license. Also I noticed that the department of sanitation police has too many property cops and not enough canine watch cops so these extra cops should be assigned to the canine watch police.

  40. Not having a poop bag is no excuse to not picking up their dog’s poop – if they don’t bring a bag, then they should use their hands to pick it up… If you think that is disgusting, then think about how disgusting it is to leave your dog’s poop on the ground for people to step in and inadvertently carry into their homes, where it gest on the floors where their children and grandchildren crawl. I am all for public shaming and anything that will get dog owners to be responsible… 3 violations of having dog unleashed or not cleaning up after poop and they should be banned from ever owning a pet again!

  41. Absolutely right! Take responsibility and clean up properly after your dog. I actually think that we must have a law for dog owners to not let their dogs just freely poop anywhere but rather put the bag or whatever else underneath their behind, so to speak. 🙂 I saw numerous times that poop is not properly scooped as it is simply impossible to do in most cases. I am very surprised that I am only one to notice this nastiness. Come on people! Be respectful and courteous.

  42. It is not about having, nor liking dogs, its about common sense. Since my first comment has not been published, I am trying again as this is a serious issue. It is simply not only disgusting but also dangerous to all of us. Please do not be ignorant but try to be a human being. There absolutely must be a law for not only punishing ignorant people but also for proper handling those poops to begin with. Dogs shroud not be aloud to just do their business everywhere but rather into something and picked up from there. There is no way to pick up it completely once on the ground. Please educate yourselves.

  43. It amazes me that when they’re caught, they get so upset! I am not surprised though. Just got footage of a irresponsible dog owner allowing his dog to poo in our yard today!

  44. I just brought a condo in Brooklyn NY and we have a common yard space that our terrace overlooks our next door neighbor from day one has allowed there dog to do it’s business in front of our terrace, there is nothing nastier than going out on your terrace early morning with a cup of coffee and looking at dog poop and huge fly’s swarming around it is unsanitary, disgusting, smelling and down right disrespectful these people both work for the MTA and they where the first people we met when we moved in they complained about the HOA and how they don’t clean the buildings and common areas and how hard it is to get results with management but yet they allow their dog to use the restroom all over the lawn and not pick it up. The husband is the worst he thinks that what he is doing is fine and that know one can stop him , whereas the wife will try to pick it up if she is home. They also open the door to their unit and let the dog out without a leash with know regard to who is outside. I have complained to management several times and they still continue to allow their dog to poop in front of my property. I have invested in security cameras and I am now building a quality of life violation case against the perpetrators. Anyone has other suggestions it would be appreciated. These people are such frauds they pretend to be concern neighbors but when know one is watching they let their dog run wild in the area, oh yeah did I mention they let their dog run unleashed on the sidewalk and do his business anywhere he wants in the early morning late evening hours. Neighbors from “HELL”.

  45. Well the city could enforce a law that
    All the dogs owners must register their dogs’s poop in some kind of lab
    And create a patrol to go after them
    Pick the excrement and analyze it and
    Fine the violators.

  46. I do always clean up after my dogs. However, is all this anti dog poop really a cover for the fact that some people suffer from cynophobia? Just because you are scared of dogs is no excuse to have a go at dog owners. Dog poo is actually very beneficial for the garden and every day I remove my dog’s faeces from my yard and put it on the garden. As a result I have one of the more luxuriant gardens in the Philippines.

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