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Tag: waste

It’s like Uber for dog poop

Just as Uber will whisk you where you need to go, the folks behind the new app Pooper — that’s right, Pooper — promise to pounce on and dispose of your dog’s poop, for a small fee, of course.

If it sounds like one of those hoax apps, well that’s entirely possible.

But until it’s exposed as such, I’m going to take it seriously — I, after all, having come up with the idea of poop valets long ago.

True, my idea was a bit more fanciful, and didn’t have an app; and true my idea was clearly tongue in cheek, unlike Pooper, whose professional-looking website leaves you thinking, hey, this might be real.

pooper-ui-device3Pooper claims the app is in the “beta testing” phase in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles.

There, if they are to be believed, they have recruited the on-call staff necessary to answer your call when your dog answers nature’s.

Actually, no call is even necessary, assuming you are a subscriber. Just take a photo of your dog’s mess and send it on to the app. The location is sent out to all members of the local scooping team, who we we can only presume are standing by excitedly.

One of them accepts the mission — we assume they are on a first come, first served basis — and goes to the scene and cleans it up.

Pooper, as the ad above puts it, allows you to put “your dog’s poop in someone else’s hands.”

Three kinds of monthly “subscriptions” are available, according to the pooperapp website.

For $15 a month, you get two scoops a day within a 15-mile radius; for $25, you get three scoops a day over a 30-mile radius (and yes, you can rollover unused scoops); for $35 you can have the “elite plan,” unlimited scoops, unlimited radius.

Pooper says the service is good for the environment.

And just like Uber drivers, Pooper scoopers — for whom we don’t imagine there will be too intense a screening process — could cash in.

Scoopers will be able to sign up for scooping duties, though the website says no more are needed during the Beta period.

“Anyone with a smart phone can scoop for us. Scoopers are paid per-scoop, use their own mode of transportation – car, bike, scooter, hiking boots – and scoop on their own schedule,” says the website.

Even though they ripped off my idea, I hold no ill will against the people behind Pooper — at least not until they get unbelievably rich. (Then I will have all kinds of ill will.)

In today’s world, such intellectual thefts have become commonplace, though I must admit they run counter to my very personal belief that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.

Besides, I’m busy brainstorming a new project that just might put Pooper out of business, if they are really in business to begin with.

That involves coming up with a way to get all those people already walking the streets while playing Pokémon Go to pick up dog poop for free.

Bonus points, maybe.

(Photos and video from Pooperapp.com)

I see a problem and I want it painted orange

orange poop 1

Dog poop is being spray painted bright orange on some forest trails in Oregon to increase public awareness of the problem — as if stepping in it doesn’t make you aware enough.

The campaign from the Oregon State University College of Forestry and local veterinarians is aimed at showing the amount of dog waste owners are leaving behind, and the potential ecological problems that could result.

Both of those are real enough concerns. But — not to question the noble efforts of organizers and volunteers — does spray painting something orange really solve anything?

If so, there are a few things (coming up in a minute) that I want to spray paint orange.

“We’ve been getting dozens of complaints from people noticing the increasing amount of poop on the trails and it’s been getting worse the last couple of years,” explained Ryan Brown, recreation and engagement program manager for OSU Research Forests. “We’re all dog lovers and dog owners and walkers of these trails and we know the opportunity to have dogs out here is super important to the community of Corvallis. And 99 percent of them are really careful and clean up after their dogs. But we want people to be aware that this is causing a lot of problems.”

“There are stream ecology studies happening in the waterways along Oak Creek and anything that gets into the water can drastically change the ecology,” Brown added. “That isn’t natural and it can really throw off the health of the streams and cause certain organisms to grow that aren’t natural to the area.”

So on Saturdays for the past month or so, volunteers had been spray painting any piles of dog poop they spot on trails with heavy duty orange paint, which really isn’t natural either.

Later — in theory, after the orange piles have made their point — volunteers return to pick up the day-glo messes.

orange poop 2On Saturday, about 20 volunteers picked up around 1,000 piles of poop at Oak Creek, Peavy Arboretum, Lewisburg Saddle and Calloway Creek trail, the Seattle Times reported.

I thank them for their service, but I would also note that pollution and annoyances comes in all shapes, sizes and consistencies, from all sorts of human sources, and they regularly taint our air, water and peaceful existence.

Should those get painted orange as well?

What about those signs of political candidates who leave them up for weeks, or months, after the election?

What about the ringing cellphones of people in a theater?

What about those robots who work for companies that call YOU up and ask YOU to hold for an actual representative?

What about utility and credit card companies who, while urging you to go paperless and thereby save trees, send you through the mail pounds of paperwork, credit applications, loan offers, advertising and pamphlets touting themselves?

And, while we’re at it, what about the car windshields of non-handicapped people who park in handicapped spaces, and presidential candidates who spread hate? What about handguns, or maybe just their barrels, and all the lies and bullshit spewed in the course of an average day.

Paint them all orange, I say. You know what that will bring us?

A still troubled, very orange world.

(Photo: Top photo Albany Democrat-Herald)

Dog complaint from neighbor leads homeowner to retaliate with striped siding

paint

When a neighbor complained about their dogs, the residents of a home in a quiet Chicago suburb responded by loudly repainting the side of their house that faces the complainant — in bright yellow, orange and purple stripes.

“It’s a slap, it’s absolutely a clear message of retaliation,” one resident of the 400 block of Longfellow Streeet, Leigh Van Heule, told the Daily Herald.

Early this summer, at least one neighbor filed a complaint with the Glen Ellyn Police Department that led to Julie A. Dombroski being fined for having four dogs in the home, one more than allowed by village code.

A day after the ticket was issued, a man began painting the siding on one side of the house in which Dombroski lives, one row at a time.

Patricia Amabile, who lives in the house facing the striped siding, says she’s at “a loss of what to do.”

Dombroski and her grown children reportedly moved into the home a few years ago, sharing it with a man who has lived there most of his life.

A man who answered the door of the painted house Friday morning declined to comment, and messages on the home’s answering machine Friday and Monday weren’t returned, the Daily Herald reported.

Amabile and other neighbors say they’ve tried to talk with the dog owners, but they refuse.

Some residents of the block say the homeowners didn’t clean up after their dogs all summer, resulting in foul smells. Neighbors contacted the DuPage County Health Department, which conducted an inspection and ordered the homeowner to clean up the waste.

The dogs, apparently German shepherd and Lab-pit bull mixes, also are known for getting loose in the neighborhood, neighbors said, and police confirmed that one had been involved a dog bite case.

“We don’t have to like each other,” Amabile said. “We just have to be civil. That’s what everybody wants … All we wanted was for them to take care of their yard and take care of their dogs.” she said.

Insulted as some neighbors feel about the paint job, some of those commenting on the Daily Herald website yesterday said they actually liked the look, and praised the homeowners for bringing a little color to the otherwise drab suburbs.

(Photo: By Bill Ackerman / Shawmedia.com)

Using dog poop to power your home

poopenergyHow many times have you looked at your dog and remarked to yourself, “I wish I had his energy?”

Maybe one day soon you can, and the source of it would be — barring any digestive issues — plentiful, sustainable and renewable.

A young Swiss designer is showing off her prototype of a home appliance that converts dog poop into power.

Océane Izard, who owns three dogs, created “Poo Poo Power” as a conceptual design. “I have always believed in the potential of my dogs’ droppings,” she says.

To use the appliance, dog owners “place a biodegradable bag of dog waste inside, where sludge-eating bacteria belch out methane that is converted to power,” FastCoExist.com reports.

The electricity is stored in detachable batteries that can be used around the house.

The amount of power it produces depends on the size of the dog.

A beagle, for example, will produce between 250 and 340 grams of feces per day — enough only to run a fan for two hours, Izard says. A German shepherd, producing about twice that, could almost power your refrigerator.

Providing enough electricity to power an entire home, she says, would take about seven dogs.

Izard hopes that the appliance might change how dog owners see poop.

“For me it should not be taboo,” she says. “Dog owners pick up their dog turds every day. This is certainly an ordeal. That’s why there’s so much in the streets. But with this machine, people will want to bring (home) this precious gift that their dogs do one to two times a day.”

izardIzard isn’t the only one to consider using dog waste for power. The city of San Francisco considered a pilot program in 2006 to collect poop at dog parks and bring it to digesters, though the program didn’t move forward. Another project aims to use dog poop to power streetlights at parks.

Izard notes that, in addition to creating a renewable source of energy, the concept, practiced on a larger scale, could also help keep cities cleaner.

Paris cleans up an estimated 12 tons of dog poop from city streets every day. In the U.S., dogs produce around 10 million tons of poop each year, most of which either stays where it was dropped or goes to landfills, where it releases methane into the atmosphere. Dog waste also pollutes watersheds.

Izard thinks, rather than viewing it as an evil scourge, it’s time to make dog poop start working for us.

“My project is an opportunity to say it is possible even at a small scale,” says Izard. “The future of poop is here.”

(Photo: Oceane Izard)

Where can a poop bag go to biodegrade?

landfill

Using “biodegradable” dog poop bags may ease our guilt, but the way we commonly dispose of them isn’t really doing the environment any favors.

That’s because most of them will end up in a landfill — the one place they are least likely to biodegrade.

Recognizing that, the Federal Trade Commission has warned 20 manufacturers of “biodegradable” dog waste bags that their marketing claims of being environmentally-friendly may be deceptive.

Apparently, even if a bag would biodegrade in a compost heap, or on a sidewalk, that doesn’t happen in your typical landfill — they being, after all, places intended primarily to be home to the unbiodegradable.

“Most waste bags … end up in landfills where no plastic biodegrades in anywhere close to one year, if it biodegrades at all,” the FTC said in a press release .

The warning letters were sent after examining the companies’ environmental claims on their websites and in other media, the FTC said.

“Consumers looking to buy environmentally friendly products should not have to guess whether the claims made are accurate,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “It is therefore critical for the FTC to ensure that these claims are not misleading, to protect both consumers and honest competitors.”

The press release leaves two things unclear. For one, are there any dog doo bags that do, in due time, biodregrade in landfills? Or do the companies that didn’t receive the letter simply avoid calling themselves green, or otherwise qualify the claim enough to avoid scrutiny?

If some bags do work better than others, the FTC doesn’t tell us. It declines to identify the 20 companies that were sent warning letters.

Calling a product “biodegradable,” without qualification, generally means the product will completely break down into its natural components within one year after disposal. Calling the bags “compostable” is also deceptive, and potentially unsafe, the FTC says. Dog waste is generally not safe to compost at home, and while there are some facilities that compost dog waste, they are few and far between.

The FTC advised the companies to review their marketing materials and contact agency staff to tell them how they intend to revise or remove the claims, or explain why they won’t.

“To say your product is ‘degradable’ or ‘biodegradable,’ without qualification, you need competent and reliable scientific evidence that it will degrade in most landfills within the claimed time period or, if you don’t specify a time period, within one year,” the letter says.

“For your dog waste bags, you need competent and reliable scientific evidence that the entire product will completely break down and return to nature — in other words, decompose into elements found in nature — within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal. To describe your product as biodegradable, you must have evidence that a substantial majority of consumers won’t dispose of them in a landfill or incineration facility since materials thrown away in that fashion don’t biodegrade.”

And if you need a more revolting “challenge”

An animal sanctuary in Ohio, after watching how successful the Ice Bucket Challenge has been as a fundraiser for ALS research, has launched a similar campaign to raise money for its shelter, challenging people to pick up dog or cat feces — with their bare hands.

The gimmick is similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge — but way more disgusting. Participants videotape themselves picking up poop, and post the video on the Internet, nominating friends and family to either take the challenge or make a donation to the shelter. ($25 is suggested.)

In a post on its Facebook page, The Island Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary in Port Clinton, Ohio, announced the “Poop Pickup Challenge” on Saturday:

“We at Island Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary are starting our own challenge. It is something that if you are a dog or cat lover have probably ALL done at one time or another. We want you to challenge people (hopefully germ haters) to a ‘Free-hand poop’ Event.”

“We’re just trying to do something to raise funds for the sanctuary,” Nancy Benevento, CEO of the sanctuary, told  The Toledo Blade. “Hands can be washed.”

As proof that the whole thing isn’t entirely tongue in cheek, Benevento got the campaign rolling by picking up — with her bare hands — a pile left by a bull mastiff at the sanctuary.

People are challenged to record themselves picking up dog or cat feces barehanded, post it to social media using the hashtag #pooppickupchallenge, and then challenge their family and friends. Those who are challenged and prefer not to pick up are asked to donate $25 to the sanctuary.

Benevento said she tried to make the challenge so revolting that people would wind up donating rather than completing it.

We think she succeeded on that last account, and we think picking up dog poop is far more earth-friendly than pouring ice water over oneself. (Or one’s dog.)

But concerns about health and hygiene should send this challenge to the Dumpster.

Filling up a bucket with dog poop and disposing of it, rather than the bare hands requirement, might have been a better challenge — and it should be poop from dogs other than your own. Picking that up is your job, anyway.

Those behind the challenge do suggest that anyone taking part should wash their hands afterwards. They advise picking up poop only from animals you know are healthy — though often one would have no way of knowing that. On top of that, they recommend you not do it with a hand that has any open cuts. And children, they add, should not be allowed to participate.

We’d say all those disclaimers pretty much take all the fun out of it — if there was any fun in it in the first place.

As much as we’re in favor of poop being picked up, and funds being raised for shelters, we think this idea is need of a lot of fine tuning.

For that reason and others, Mrs. Benevento, bold and well-intentioned as your challenge is, we’re not inclined to take it, and forgive us for not wanting to shake your hand right now.

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?