A Hampton Roads Gem

Why Pooping Needs Scooping

Here’s the Scoop:
I used to be one of them….an avid pet owner who rationalized and justified not picking up after my dogs while walking them.
I felt ‘responsible’ if I got my two dogs to do their business on that strip of land beyond one’s yard and sidewalk, that is city owned, but home owners are responsible for maintaining. I felt like a good citizen if my pets went in a common area like a median, an empty lot, a big field behind the playground, etc….any place that was not considered someone’s yard. And on those occasions when my pooches did go in someone’s yard, I thought, “Oh Well…it happens….I’ve had it done to me.”

I convinced myself that dog droppings were somehow ‘good for the environment’.

But then I had an epiphany, and seemingly overnight, I changed my habits and began picking up after my dogs…what triggered it? Maybe it was seeing other pet owners taking the more responsible and considerate approach of picking up after their dogs. Maybe it was watching some kids play in a field and thinking that one of them would likely trample, or worse, fall into a smelly messy pile of poo, and bring the mess home for a parent to deal with. Perhaps it was watching the elderly man, who is always working in his yard to keep it well tended and manicured…knowing that he frequently is picking up the waste of other people’s dogs. Maybe it was a combination of all the above.

So just like that, I went from being an aloof offender of pooper scooper laws and etiquette to an ardent stalwart of doggie doo waste removal. And yes, after the ‘transformation’ I had zero tolerance for people who do not scoop their dogs’ poop even though I was one of them for some time. I was wrong all along, despite all of my explanations and justifications.

Here are reasons, form the obvious to the obscure, as to why pet owners need to scoop the poop:

Bad for the Environment
It is a misconception that pet waste is ‘fertilizer.’ In fact, it is quite bad for the environment.
It contributes to storm water pollution, which negatively impacts our water ways, lakes, streams, ponds, and beaches.

Bad for your Family and Yard
If your dog mostly does his or her business on your own property, true, the unsightly waste out of the view of others. However, when left undisposed on a lawn, it still contributes to storm water pollution and it increases your family’s risk of contracting worms, parvo, and other diseases. Additionally, it is actually toxic to your yard. Click here fore more information.

Repugnant Nuisance
What is the most likely to occur from someone not picking up after their dog during a walk through the neighborhood:
  • A child steps in it and brings tracks it into her house, forcing her Mom and/or Dad to stop what s/he is doing, in order to spend the next 30 - 90 minutes (depending on the severity of the situation) cleaning it up.
  • A resident, wearing socks, steps in it while retrieving her mail or newspaper.
  • A kid, waiting at the bus stop, steps in it, just minutes prior to the bus arriving.
  • Service/repair person, steps in it after retrieving tools from his van, and inadvertently tracks it into a resident’s home.
  • A child being tackled into a big pile of it while playing football in a field.
  • A toddler, sticking his hand in it, while playing in his own front yard.
From the looks of some areas, all six are equally likely to happen, unless these people are proactively on the look out for errant dog poo, and that just shouldn’t be….People should not be in constant vigilance for piles of poo when engaging in normal, every day activities, often in their own front yards no less.

False Accusations/Beliefs of Responsible Dog Owners
When people walk their dogs, they happen across the waste left by other dogs, and their dog will sniff it. Pet owners, who pick up after their own dogs, usually will not pick up the waste of another pet...they are only responsible for their own. However, imagine a resident glancing out of the window, or just pulling up from a long day of work. This person sees a dog and her owner stop by an area, before leaving. In that same spot, is some doggie doo. The person who happened to glance over may very well believe that waste was left by the dog that just walked off, when it wasn’t . The person may confront the dog owner (and what an interesting and awkward exchange that may be when the dog owner insists the stuff was there before his dog stopped to sniff it). Or the person may say nothing, but have nothing but contempt and disgust for both the dog and owner.

Violation of Ordinances and Laws
There are pooper scooper ordinances and laws for a reason…because undisposed fecal matter is a big deal and does inconvenience others and negatively impact the environment.
Some ordinances may seem extreme to some people:
  • Jail Time and Hefty Fines. In Virginia Beach, one can serve up to a year in jail and/or up to a $2,500 fine, for not picking up after their pet. Add to this any other residual violations that may be present…no pet license, not on a leash, expired vaccinations, etc.
  • Reporting with Photographic Proof is something that some Community Management organizations encourage, even though it can be controversial. Once pictures are taken, it has been recommended by some that the violation be reported to the community’s health department vs. police department.
  • Some HOAs have DNA taken from pets in the community, for the purposes of penalizing pooper scooper offenders. Click here for more information.

Compliance Is Easy
As inconvenienced as one may feel about picking up after their own pet, it is a greater inconvenience for someone else to have to deal with it in one way or another. Also, once someone gets past whatever hang up they have about picking up after their pet, their are an abundance of tools available for this task:
Newspaper Sleeves, Plastic Grocery Bags, Pet Waste Bags. These all can be used like gloves, by sticking one’s hand inside of them, grabbing the waste, and pulling the bag inside out, around the waste, then tying the top part in a knot, and tossing it in the outdoor trash can. Just make sure whatever item is used is checked for defects such as holes, rips, or cracks, beforehand.
Pooper Scoopers. Don’t want to get that up close and personal to Champ’s nuggets? Pooper scoopers come in a variety of sizes and styles.
Disposable Latex or Vinyl Gloves. These come in handy for the person who wants that added protection of using a bag or a pooper scooper. They come like a box of tissues, where one can grab as many as needed at a time.

Just remember, regardless of whatever method used, and even if the added protection of gloves is used…always wash your hands after cleaning up after pet, as soon as you arrive home.

Human bodily waste has historically been isolated, and disposed of for a reason…it is unsightly, it smells, and yes, it can contribute to disease when brought into contact with others. Pets should be no exception and should have their waste disposed of quickly and properly.

Despite all that has been mentioned above, some will still rationalize that undisposed pet fecal matter, left on the property of others, or some common place, is not a big deal. Ironically, they are showing how big of a deal it is. If it were not such a big deal, one would let their pet continuously do their business right there is their house or yard . In essence, it is like saying, “No way do I want to deal with this nasty stuff in my house or yard. I will put it in someone else’s yard so they can deal with it instead.
Please…don’t be that person.