The politics of dog poop

Article Courtesy of The Tampa Bay Times

By Sue Carlton

Published June 4, 2016


Possibly there are more important things to discuss, such as gun violence, whom we elect president or where the Rays land.

But let us pause a moment here for the politics of dog poop.

It has come to this: inconsiderate people turning dog droppings into brisk business because they do not deign to pick up what unpleasantries their Labs and Lhasa apsos leave behind for others to find.

This is America, after all.

As the Times' Tony Marrero recently reported, communities across Tampa Bay and the nation are turning to fecal forensics to analyze that rudely unscooped poop regularly appearing at a cul de sac near you.

Condo and homeowners associations are requiring registration and a saliva swab of canine residents. And when there's a match between the disgusting doo and the dachshund down the street, there's a fine for the errant owners on the way.

To which I say: What, no jail time?

You have to admire that Mark Guarino, an enterprising guy in Town 'N Country, straight out calls his business Mr. Dog Poop Inc., which I think technically makes him Mr. Dog Poop. His started as a dog waste cleanup venture, but now has about 150 communities using DNA detective services to track down "poopetrators."

And you know who you are.

What's especially maddening are piles that appear at the park within arm's reach of free — repeat, free — plastic poop bags conveniently posted by strategically located garbage cans. Allow me just one human/pet comparison here: It's like a parent saying, "I love my baby. I'm just not wild about that whole diaper business."

Myself, I prefer the newspaper bag, given the length that gives you the greatest proximity from the offending substance contained therein, plus easy knotability. Only rarely am I caught bagless. I admit I once had to wing it with a couple of thick handfuls of oak leaves — I may not be proud, but my conscience is clear.

And don't even get me started on whether it's okay to dump your full poop bag in someone else's garbage bin because it's more convenient. Well, sure, why not! And bring over a couple of dirty diapers and some open tuna cans and throw them in there, too!

Someone I know confesses he does not bag what his dog does if no one's looking, but his more civic-minded wife picks up not only their dog's doings but sometimes extra poop she sees. He figures this makes him even, in the karmic scheme of things. There's something very if-a-tree-falls-in-the-woods-and-nobody-hears-it to that logic.

So maybe it's human nature to, on occasion, not be our best selves when there are no witnesses. But here's another aspect of being human to consider, and a useful one:

Guilt. Or maybe that's: shame.

If you've ever witnessed the politics of a dog park, all those dogs romping about with owners nearby, you've seen this. No one could ignore their little Sparky's indiscretion under the watchful gaze of other dog people — and believe me, they're watching. It's pure poop peer pressure out there.

Turns out those tickets may have the same effect. One local property manager reported that even the threat of a violation letter has noticeably curbed those problem piles. Score one for accountability on the high end of the leash.