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Tag: ordinances

Poop, paint and the long arm of the law

In light of news that the fine for not picking up dog waste in Baltimore has gone up to a possible $1,000 per dropping, we scoured the Internet yesterday — ok, maybe we just scanned it — to get some idea of what fines other cities impose for unscooped poop.

We can report that (A) we’re confused, (B) there seems to be a wide variance, (C) one must sometimes wade through a lot of poop on the Internet to get facts, and (D) somebody in New York — likely either a vigilante or a graffiti artist with low self esteem — is going around spray painting unpicked-up poop.

We’re not sure what the penalty for spray painting poop in New York is, but the fine imposed on an owner who doesn’t pick it up is $250. It was increased last year from $100.

Since the $250 penalty was put in place Nov. 7, 2008, about 54 citations a month have been issued — about the same as under the old fine, according to the New York Post.

New York Sanitation Department spokesman Matt Lipani told the Post that the laws, and the penalities, seem to make no difference: “There is absolutely no correlation between the amount of canine-waste summonses the department writes, or the cost of the summonses, and whether or not dog owners pick up after their dogs.”

Moving on to Hoboken, N.J., we can report that the city raised it’s dog poop fines to a maximum of $2,000 in 2007, and also announced plans to publish offending dog owners’ names on the Internet. It’s not clear if either became common practice.

In San Francisco, a city looking into ways of converting poop into methane gas for fuel, the maximum fine for not picking up your dog’s waste is $319.

London hits offenders with fines as high as $700.

In Lafayette, Colorado, one of the few cities I could find that’s kind enough to make the information easy to locate on its website, the fines are $140 to $165 for the first offense, $240 for the second offense and from $340 to $1000 for the third offense.

What stood out most, though, in my foray into feces law, is how hard to find and little-publicized the local ordinances are. Considering their whole purpose is to create a deterrent effect, you’d think more effort would be made — in Baltimore and a lot of other cities — to get that information out.

Getting (a little) serious about dog poop

Every day in Seattle, where dogs outnumber children, 41,250 pounds of poop exits dogs and lands on the otherwise fair city, according to the Seattle Times.

In a year (who says newspapers don’t cover the important stuff anymore) that adds up to 15.1 million pounds, but it also leads to a lot of confrontations between neighbors, between dog owners and animal-control officers, and between dog owners and passers-by — not to mention steppers-in.

And, actually, it is important stuff.

The non-scoopers among us — and you know who you are — aren’t just contributing to an erosion in the quality of life, but to health problems as well.

When it rains, as it often does in Seattle, dog poop can run into storm drains, and then into lakes and streams and eventually Puget Sound. In Baltimore, it can take a similar route and end up in the Inner Harbor, and other, more frolic-worthy waterways.

Dave Ward, principal watershed steward for Snohomish County in Washington, notes that kids thinking they are playing in a pristine stream could actually be coming into contact with roundworms, E. coli and Giardia.

“Pet waste comes consistently to the top as one of the principal sources of contamination in urban waterways,” Ward said.

The Times story goes on to recount some of the nasty confrontations dog poop has led to in Seattle, where citations ($54 a whack) can be issued not just for failing to scoop poop, but for failure to carry proper poop-scooping equipment.

In 2007, Seattle — home to an estimated 125,000 dogs — issued 65 citations related to dog poop, from failing to scoop in parks to allowing accumulation of feces on one’s property.

(Graphic by Clyde Peterson, official ohmidog! cartoonist)

Texas lawmaker seeks opinion on breed bans

A Texas lawmaker has asked the state attorney general to issue an opinion on whether local officials have the authority to pass laws banning or regulating specific breeds of dogs.

In a letter to Attorney General Greg Abbott, Republican state Rep. Tony Goolsby requested an opinion to clarify a state law that cities and counties have interpreted as preventing them from targeting breeds.

He wrote that confusion caused by “varying interpretations” of the law has stopped local governments wanting to pursue such measures, according to the Houston Chronicle.

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