A Not-So-Fine Mess

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I have enlisted the help of my fellow Newport Indy columnist, Mike Glueck, MD, because I have something to say about doggie doo that may affect whether you think it is appropriate to allow your dog to go wherever and not pick up after.

With so many people becoming dog owners we are seeing dogs everywhere we go, they shop, eat, and sleep in many places that used to be just for people. Now when renting a hotel room I not only ask for a non-smoking room but also must ask for a pet-free room as well..

However, with so many dogs being treated as people we need to start disposing of dog waste as we do human waste.  We have grave concerns about homeless people not having and using proper sanitation, because of the health affects it can have on all of us.  Lack of proper sanitation is a huge problem in underdeveloped countries, because it compromises the health and safety of its population.

Now, as Dr. Mike says, and I concur, “Dogs are truly man’s best friend when you add up all the positives – pets, medical and therapeutic uses, police work, and the myriad other ways they make our lives better.”

But …

“Recently a bad side is looming which is in no way is the fault of the dogs. There are approximately 80 million dogs in the United States with 37.2 percent of household having a dog as a pet.  There are roughly 5-7 million dogs in shelters.  No one really knows the number of stray dogs that are just “roaming freely.  Add that all up and it amount to a heck of a lot of dog-fecal material daily. Now that’s a problem.”

And the good doctor goes on to explain:

“Most everyone agrees that clean land; air and water are preferable to the contaminated kind.  In the 1956 hit record,  “The Unchained Melody,” the late great Al Hibler reminds us that lonely rivers flow to the sea, to the sea—and so it is with dog waste not being picked up by the dog’s owner.  Dog owners tell us that they have watched other owners right in front of them blatantly leave Rover’s makings behind.  Dog feces are known to carry heartworms, whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, parvo, giardiasis, salmonellosis, cryptosporidiosis and campylobacteriosis.”

In my community many dog owners are responsible – they have their dogs leashed and it is easy to see their plastic bags ready for use any time, any place.  We even have a deposit spot for the bags so folks do not have to carry them back home.

However, there are those who do not care and they are making it hard on our environment and causing some of us to have to pick up stuff that we should not have to.  Why should the gardeners have to stop and pick up dog waste before mowing the lawn or weeding the flowerbeds?  Why should I have to get my shovel out to get it off the sidewalk near my house so that others do not step in it during an evening walk?

There is no grass in my entire community for parents to take their kids to play on that is free of urine and dog waste. I have talked to many people in the city who say they are fighting the same thing, and many are dog owners themselves.  The difference is responsibility.  Will you be a responsible pet owner or one who litters and adds to poor sanitation and increased environmental pollution?

The problem has become so bad locally and nationally that property managers are striking back.  As reported in USA Today this month:  “Just the idea of using the technology people are used to seeing on the Crime Scene Investigation TV shows was enough to get residents of Legends at Taylor Lakes, an upscale Montgomery apartment community, to clean up their act.  ‘We sent out letters to residents about what we were going to do,’ said Joe Johnson, property manager.”

Legends had been using the service about six weeks.

“The problem of owners not cleaning up after their dogs just disappeared.”

A company called PooPrints developed a process in which DNA samples can be collected from dogs.  The samples then can be used to determine which dogs are leaving waste behind.  The company, based in Tennessee, markets the service to property management companies, apartment complexes, and homeowners’ associations.  Clients collect samples of waste and send them to the PooPrints Lab.  They perform an exact DNA match up with the pets in their database.  The results come back as “the beagle in Apartment 3A left the waste.”

“The service works,” said the regional property manager at United Residential Properties in Macon, Ga.  Residents are fined $150 if they do not clean up after their dogs.  Approximately 95 percent of the dog owners follow the rules now.

Says Dr. Mike:

“If we had the courage, similar programs could be started right here in Newport Beach.  We could make a doggie DNA test a requirement for licensure.  If many communities used this technology the price would certainly come down.  And if someone used a dog in the commission of a crime it might lead to capture of the criminal.”

Unfortunately Dr. Mike, I think it has come to this.  DNA tests and simple manners would help us get this problem under control.   We need to keep our city and communities free of waste so that everyone can walk and enjoy the beauty of our beaches, harbors, neighborhoods, restaurants and shopping centers with dog in tow or alone.

Please pick it up and dispose of it properly no matter where you are!


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