An interesting paper about poo

There’s an interesting paper available on the tubes: ‘Dealing with Dog Waste in Vancouver Parks’.  It’s well-written, thoughtful and well worth reading for the issues that it raises, issues that we can hope someday to be able to address here, too. (Things like disposal, and composting.)

For now, the dog waste issue may be too polarized in the South Loop to allow sober discussion.  Too bad. But there’s information in the paper that’s worth highlighting.

First is the adult (read ‘Canadian’?) discussion of the social and environmental impacts of uncollected dog waste that serves as the introduction.

It’s worth quoting a few paragraphs:

Dog waste left in public spaces also contributes to conflicts between those park users with and those without dogs. It also undermines public support for off-leash park designation, since off-leash dogs are perceived to be more likely to leave waste in parkland, as their owners may not see their pet’s feces–or feel as responsible for cleaning them up- when their pet is not close at hand.

Dog owners who knowingly leave their pets’ waste in public areas reduce the usability of parks for all. This behavior exacerbates the perception of some non-dog owners that permitting dogs in parks will necessarily result in uncollected dog waste. It also undermines the efforts of the vast majority of dog owners who do clean up after their pets.

Conflicts arising from uncollected dog waste detract from the reality that dogs are very important in our society. For people of all ages, dogs provide an irreplaceable source of companionship, affection and fulfillment. Dog ownership throughout North America continues to grow. Addressing the issue of uncollected dog waste is key to achieving greater public understanding and appreciation of the place that dogs now have in our society.


Second, there’s a summary of actual survey data about cleaning up after dogs.  This provides a useful baseline for thinking about the problem here, and ‘what is to be done’.  For example:

Maryland (HGIC, 1996)

  • 62% always cleaned up after the dog; 23% sometimes; 15% never.

Washington (Hardwick, 1997)

  • 69% claimed that they cleaned up after the dog; 31% do not pick up.

Chesapeake Bay (Swann, 1999)

  • 59% of dog walkers clean up most/all of the time; 41% cleanup never or rarely. Of those who never or rarely clean up, 44% would not cleanup even with fine, complaints, or improved sanitary collection or
    disposal methods. (!?!)

Only ~60-70 % ?!?!

The fraction in the South Loop who pick up after their pups must be greater than that!  But, is it?

Finally, there’s a list of surveyed ‘Reasons for not picking it up’:

  • because it eventually goes away
  • just because
  • too much work
  • on edge of my property
  • it’s in my yard
  • it’s in the woods
  • not prepared
  • no reason
  • small dog, small waste
  • use as fertilizer
  • sanitary reasons

Respond to that!

We’ve heard a lot of these ‘reasons’ before (‘teacuppers’!).  They provide a focus for addressing the issue here in the South Loop.

2 Responses to “An interesting paper about poo”

  1. 1 FINALLY!!!
    March 11, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    First let me say I am not a dog hater. But I had to leave several emails for the owner of the Fisher Building (343 S. Dearborn). Every morning as I rounded the corner of Van Buren and Plymouth Court, I have to decide if I wanted to walk on the sidewalk covererd with poo or the huge snow mounds covered with poo. There are 4 city garbage cans on that corner.

    It really does put a bad name to the responsible dog owners who do pick up after theri dogs.

  2. March 15, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    We’re going to see if we can identify the ‘hotspots’ for dog waste in the neighborhood in a future post.

    One hypothesis is that rental buildings often have residents who don’t give a sh*t (so to speak). The Fisher building is beautiful, but it seems that it’s a rental building, too. On the other hand there’s a comment on Yelp: “Small grass area across the street used by the residents is full of dog poop from the CTA security dogs (everyone else curbs their dogs but apparently the CTA feels their above that”).

    Maybe we can follow up on this idea in the future.

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