“No, I don’t walk that way — you have to turn right on the next street — because Steve might be out and I’ll get a chance to see him,” I explained this directional route to my husband on a recent walk through the neighborhood. “Whenever I see Steve, he’s so adorable, I just want to hug his neck.”
Larry rarely has an opportunity to walk with me, so for a minute he looked confused, until I clarified that Steve is my favorite neighborhood dog. He barks like a ferocious canine protecting his property, but he is really a lovable pooch with responsible owners who never let him run free or do his business indiscriminately.
Sadly, not all pet owners are as conscientious when it comes to making sure their dogs don’t infringe on the rights of others. In the most extreme cases, we have seen the horrifying accounts about a loose dog viciously attacking an innocent victim resulting in death or serious injury.
There are animal laws in the Ohio Revised Code 955.22, which address the issue of “a dog running at large” according to Deputy Kelli Ward who is responsible for handling the dog-related issues for the Shelby County Animal Shelter. Thankfully, many dogs running at large aren’t dangerous, some are simply a nuisance. “We usually give a warning the dog has to stay on … [their owner’s] property,” said Ward.
But what about that pesky poop, irresponsible dog walkers leave on sidewalks, at the park, or even at a strip mall? First, please know I am a consummate dog lover, even though I do not have the pleasure of owning one. Yet dogs are a lot like toddlers. When they are well-behaved, they are delightful. When they’re screaming and throwing a temper tantrum, in dog talk — incessantly barking or rummaging through the trash, you probably prefer not to be around them.
The big difference though is that most toddlers wear diapers, while dogs are dependent on the sensitivity of their keepers to handle the disposal of their doo-doo. If you Google the word “doo-doo,” which by the way I’ve never used in any other column in the past two decades, the result is “excrement.” Google dictionary’s sentence usage example is, “They should fine people if they are not carrying a bag for their dog’s doo-doo.”
I have to agree with Google on this one. For instance, in my own subdivision I watched helplessly as a little one on a trike, was pedaling full-speed into the path of a large pile of you-know-what left on the sidewalk by a careless owner. Besides, canine waste can contain roundworms, transmit diseases, and the high protein content in dog food can also cause the waste to be acidic and harmful to plants or even grass according to various Internet sites.
Some municipalities do have ordinances and some even impose hefty fines for inconsiderate people who leave waste behind. For example, in New York City the problem has become monumental. In May 2017, an article in the New York Post, “De Blasio pledges crackdown on dog poop” reported, “Dog owners who leave pet poop on city sidewalks better cut the crap — or face hefty fines!”
Several months later, another New York Post article claimed that little momentum had been gained in the effort to keep the streets where millions of dogs reside, a feces free zone. Let’s face it, it can be rather difficult to find out which canine culprit left what, and where. One answer is DNA testing which is being employed in certain areas. Although effective, feces forensics might not be cost-effective at about $100 a sample.
So, back to Deputy Ward who says, “There is no animal law in terms of the animal laws of the state but it (disposing of dog waste) would fall under the littering laws. Common courtesy is usually what we try to stress.”
There’s no reason we shouldn’t follow Deputy Ward’s advice. A little “common courtesy” would mean anyone who walks a dog, should have a bag to collect their pet’s waste, and then dispose of it in their garbage, or flush it down the toilet minus the bag.
Will you join the “Scoop the Poop” campaign today? Just think of that tiny child on his little trike headed for disaster, and me, too slow to stop it.
Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and an inspirational speaker. Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com.