Pet Parade: Dog owners' not-so-secret dirty mission

By AL SWANSON  |  June 20, 2010 at 4:32 AM
share with facebook
share with twitter

CHICAGO, June 20 (UPI) -- Our terrier pup is paper-trained, so paper-trained that we can go on a three-mile walk and she won't relieve herself until we get back home to the kitchen.

The kitchen is where we set up her crate when she was 7 weeks old. We gave her fleece bedding, water and food bowls and put down a quilted puppy pad, which she quickly got the hang of using for both No. 1 and No. 2.

For her paper-training was as easy as for a cat. Shredding the pad later became a part of youthful canine rebellion.

For many pet owners animal waste is a not-so-secret dirty daily mission.

It's estimated the nearly 78 million dogs in the United States generate 10 million tons of poop every year -- about 252 pounds per dog -- and more than half of dog owners don't bother to clean up behind their animals.

More than 100 million U.S. households have pets ranging from dogs and cats to fish and reptiles.

Even though most municipalities have long had "pooper-scooper" laws on the books mandating dog walkers remove "pet nuisances" -- some people just don't do it. Maybe they're lazy or ignorant, or maybe they think picking up poop is too nasty -- maybe it's a combination of many reasons -- but they must realize leaving a pet's waste on the street is simply unhealthy.

Pet waste contains bacteria, viruses, hookworm, roundworm and in 1991 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed dog poop in the same pollution category as oil and toxic chemicals, The Waterbury, Conn., Republican-American said.

Commonsense on poop should prevail, right? Wrong.

Last month, a 60-year-old great-grandmother in northern England was fined $75 for picking up the wrong dog's doo. The woman told the BBC Sunderland Council animal wardens said she failed to clean up behind her Labrador retriever and picked up another dog's droppings instead.

The case was dropped when the woman explained she had picked up both piles of waste and put them in the same bag.

In Virginia, a 69-year-old man sued PetSmart for $1 million claiming he suffered back injuries when he slipped in dog poop inside a store, fell and lost four false teeth.

PetSmart, which allows leashed animals to accompany owners in its stores, denied any negligence, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot said. Pet accident cleanup stations with plastic bags, orange-yellow warning pylons and disinfectant spray are scattered throughout the stores. From what I've seen, most customers clean up behind their animals.

Dog droppings left on a street in Taunton, Conn., triggered a fight between a dog walker and a resident on Whittenton Street. The Taunton Daily Gazette said Eric DaVila didn't have a baggie for the poop but assured the resident he would return and pick up the mess. He didn't and the next day he found dog poop smeared on his car windshield, door handles and keyholes. Angry words later led to a punch in the face. DaVila allegedly stabbed his attacker five times. The victim was treated for minor flesh wounds and DaVila was charged with felony assault and battery.

It's a touchy issue.

One of my neighbors followed a repeat poop offender to his home and left several days of poop from the man's dog in a bag on the doorstep. He rang the bell and left. The offender hasn't been seen in our alley for more than a year.

That's mild compared to the 68-year-old man in Silkeborg, Denmark, who allegedly rubbed dog droppings into the hair of a woman who failed to pick up behind her pet.

A witness told the Copenhagen Post the man "grabbed the woman by the hair, held on tight to her and rubbed the dog poop all over her head."

The New York Daily News says U.S. pop star Ke$sha gives bags of poop wrapped as Christmas presents to people she feels have done her wrong.

The more civilized townspeople in Cheltenham, England, tried to shame dog owners into cleaning up after their animals by drawing red circles around the poop. It if stays on the sidewalk, dog wardens add a yellow circle and then a white circle.

While the circles make it easier to avoid stepping in dog stuff, some residents say the wardens should just pick up the poop themselves.

"Have they not thought about the health risks of leaving this mess out in the open?" a Cheltenham resident asked in the Daily Mail. "And I dread to think what the smell will be like in the summer as it gets even hotter with all the poop lying around."

City officials in New York are contemplating hiking fines for non-scoopers from $50 to $250, after a spike in dog poop violations citywide. Manhattan's West Side led in complaints.

"It's their self-absorbed, all-about-me attitude," a professional dog walker on Central Park West told the New York Post. "They're like, I'm too busy going to my Pilates class. I don't have time to keep the neighborhood clean."

But perhaps the most high-tech approach to stopping offenders was proposed at Scarlett Place condos in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

A condo resident proposed charging dog owners and guests with dogs $50 to pay for DNA tests to find the animal responsible for leaving poop on the ritzy premises. Dog owners would be charged $10 a month to have the building's janitorial staff collect the poop and any resident found not cleaning up behind an offending animal would be fined $500.

Cooler heads prevailed and the idea was tabled at a condo board meeting.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories