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Tag: block

Do we really need a “war” against dog poop?

In the annals of Gotham’s crimefighting superheroes, Abby Weissman might not go down as one of the all-time greatest.

But at least he will be noted for capturing a dog pooping on camera and, far more important, that doggie’s caretaker not picking it up.

Faster than a speeding bullet, he posted it on Facebook:

 

In the post, Weissman fires a first blow in his quest for justice, and calls upon others to join in fighting the scourge of canine caretakers who don’t pick up after their charges — by submitting photos and videos of scofflaws caught in the act to his block association’s Facebook page.

Weissman is president of the South Oxford Street Block Association in New York’s Fort Greene neighborhood.

The association started a “Dog Walkers Hall of Shame” campaign July 30, after his home security camera captured a dog walker, busy with her cell phone, walking away from the mess the dog had just deposited on the sidewalk in front of his house.

Weissman hopes a little public humiliation will be more effective than the seldom enforced “pooper scooper” law, and its $250 fines.

Since 2013, 63 “pooper scooper” violations have been issued in Brooklyn, DNAInfo reports. An officer must witness the incident to issue a summons, according to the Department of Sanitation.

Weissman, like any good superhero, seemed to take a great deal of pride in catching the scofflaw, at least on video. “We always wanted a photo or video or someone actually letting their dog shit and purposefully leaving it there. Here it is, thanks to Dropcam.”

I’m all for owners taking responsibility for what their dogs drop, and all for laws enforcing that. And I’m fine with fines.

I’m just not so sure we have to view it all in terms of a “war,” and I question whether all the high tech weapons being seized upon — like hidden cameras, and sending dog poop to laboratories to see if its DNA can be matched to a particular dog — are a bit of an over-reaction, better used on terrorists than people who don’t pick up dog poop.

I have a problem with public “shaming,” too — whether it’s being used on deadbeat dads, the customers of prostitutes, or those who fail to pick up dog waste. It reminds me of those stocks and pillories we used to punish wrongdoers in colonial times. I’d like to think we’ve become a little more civilized since then. And I’d like to think we’re smart enough to realize people who engage in shameful behavior often don’t have a huge sense of shame in the first place.

Most of all I’m puzzled about how we let something with such a simple solution become so huge, and gobble up so much time, money and technology. How much is being wasted sending dog waste through the mail for analysis in laboratories? How many hours did Weissman spend watching video to pinpoint the culprit who pooped in front of his house?

Sometimes I think our species is prone to escalating anything that can possibly escalated.

Perhaps a psychologist could explain that to me.

In the meantime, can’t we all just pick it up?

500 dogs in China saved from slaughterhouse

More than 500 dogs being trucked to a slaughterhouse in China were freed from that fate when an animal activist spotted the truck transporting them on the highway, went on line and used social media to arrange an impromptu blockade.

Around 200 people helped block the truck at a toll booth for 15 hours — until they were able to negotiate the dogs’ release for $17,000, saving the dogs from being slaughtered and served as food.

While farm-raised dogs are traditionally eaten in China and some other Asian countries, the man who arranged the spontaneous road block over the Twitter-like social media site Sina Weibo, in addition to being an animal activist, reportedly suspected they were stolen.

After spotting a truck packed with hundreds of whimpering dogs on a Beijing highway, he put out a call begging fellow animal lovers to come and help him force the driver to release the animals.

Many of the animals were dehydrated, injured and suffering from a virus; at least 68 have been hospitalized, and one has died, the Associated Press reports. Video footage taken Tuesday showed the animals barking and whining in cramped metal crates.

“They were squeezing and pressing on each other and some were biting and fighting, and I saw some were injured or sick,” said Li Wei, manager of Capital Animal Welfare Association and one of the people who participated in the rescue. Li said at least one dog had died in the truck.

The rescue was remarkable on several levels. It was a rare successful case of social activism in China, a sign that new sensibilities are rising when it comes to dogs, and that the traditional practice of eating them is, for many, intolerable.

China has no animal protection laws for dogs or livestock, but animal welfare movements are growing there and in much of Asia.

The activists reached an agreement with the driver to purchase the dogs for about $17,000 dollars — most of which was contributed by a pet company and an animal protection foundation, Li said.

AP reports that dozens of volunteers have flocked to the Dongxing Animal Hospital in Beijing where they are helping to clean cages and mop floors. Sixty-eight dogs were at the hospital, many of them bandaged and hooked up to intravenous drips. Most were severely dehydrated and some had parvovirus.

The rest of the dogs have been taken to a property on the northern outskirts of Beijing where Li’s group is caring for them.

“When I saw the poor dogs on Twitter, I cried and cried, but I thought there was no way they could stop the truck. So I was very surprised when they did it and I wanted to help,” said Chen Yang, 30, a woman who tended to a dog that had given birth to four puppies just after the rescue.

The volunteer response indicates a growing awareness for animal rights, said Lu Yunfeng, a sociology professor at Peking University.

“Dogs were historically on the food list in China and South Korea, while they were loved in Western countries,” Lu said.

But in China, “as people became well-off, they had money to raise dogs, and while raising these dogs, they developed feelings for dogs,” he said.

Leaving the city of brotherly love

Pardon my haste, and the typos I’m sure will follow, but sitting here in the tranquility of the Grover Cleveland Service Area of the New Jersey Turnpike, hoping to pop off a quick post, I notice my computer’s battery is quickly draining.

Not mine, though. It has been recharged by my time in Baltimore and Philadelphia, reuniting with old friends and, I’ll admit it, hoisting a few, by which I mean beers, not friends.

During our Philadelphia visit, Ace and I stayed with my longtime friend and colleague Margaret, and her husband Will, and their three cats, Tammo, Cali and Papi.

They were but the latest of many cats Ace and I have stayed with as we continue to freeload, as much as possible, our way across the country. But Ace, who’s enamored with felines, hadn’t been amid three at a time before.

Each one had a slightly different personality, and a different reaction to Ace. Cali, the oldest at 15, was the most mellow, hissing once in a while if Ace got too close, but otherwise acting as if it were no big deal to suddenly have a 130-pound dog in a cat-specific house.

Tammo kept his distance, sometimes approaching Ace, then running off.

Papi was the most curious, not, I wouldn’t say, antagonistic — but definitely confrontational. On second though, maybe I would say antagonistic. He’d cautiously stalk up behind Ace and come up next to him and, during the first approach, gave him a good right jab, which Ace responded to by standing up and issuing one bark.

After that Ace, though still curious, kept a respectable distance, for the most part.

Even then, though, he seemed to delight in laying down somewhere near one of them and gazing at them, or the chair they were hidden under.

Seeing they had reached something close to detente, I left Ace and visited my old newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, which happens to be on the auction block today, if you’ve got a few million and are looking for a good investment.

Given all the insecurity, it amazed me that my former colleagues weren’t babbling idiots by now. Somehow, in that limbo, they manage to do their jobs and produce a pretty decent newspaper.

As in Baltimore, I was struck in Philadelphia by how much I’ve missed people with whom I’ve done a terrible job of staying in touch.

With 10 years having passed since I worked there, I was surprised to see so many familiar faces (and sorry I didn’t have more time), surprised as well when a colleague showed me a dictionary that still had my name written on it.

We’re headed now to Long Island, where we will hop three ferry boats tomorrow as we begin duplicating, at least for the time being, the route John Steinbeck and his poodle covered in ”Travels with Charley.”

By tonight, we’ll be in North Merrick, have dinner with a Steinbeck afficianado and librarian and try to find someplace to stay before heading to Sag Harbor in the morning.

My hour-long Internet search for affordable (by my definition) and dog-friendly lodging was a huge waste of time, with little to be found for under $100 a night — a price we feel so strongly about not paying that we will sleep in the car for the first time if we have to.

Today, on my way north, I took a quick tour of Yardley, Pennsylvania, my hometown for about 15 years and noticed, despite continued upscaling — fancier restaurants, even more Realtors, a Starbucks and lots of hair salons — it was still pretty much the same quaint, one-stoplight boro.

Somewhere today, I think, we also crossed the Continental Polite Divide. In my experiences the southern half of America — whatever else you might say about it — is far more friendly. Baltimore is still mostly friendly. Philadelphia is kind of friendly. But somehwere along the way — possibly Princeton, New Jersey — we crossed the zig-zagging imaginary line across America into a place where people are more insular, where doors aren’t often held open, where conversations aren’t as likely to start up, unless maybe you have a dog and they want to know what kind of dog it is.

In Philadelphia, I felt among friends — old and new. My friend Margaret’s close-knit block, in the shadow of the old Eastern Penitentiary, was a wonderful slice of the city to hang out in, and an example of one of many neighborhoods — once mostly all ethnic enclaves — that have become little melting pots. This one boiled over with kindness.

Except maybe for Papi, who continued to most surreptitiously — and I’m sure I spelled that wrong — try to provoke Ace.

Deep down though, I think she was as enthralled with him as he was with her.

I think — gross generalization that it is — all these impolite northerners would, if they gave it a chance, be more enthralled with each other as well, if they took the time. More often, they are in a hurry, wrapped up in themselves, not seeing the world around them –  like the one who cut me off with his car, or the one who let the door close on my cheeseburger and fries, or the three (out of five) men in the restroom that were talking on their cell phones while they urinated.

C’mon fellas. Even with hands free technology, it’s still bad manners.

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