What’s the Big Deal with Dog Poop?

Golden Retriever in bike cart

Ok, I’m in. Now can we go shopping on the Commons? What do you mean dogs aren’t allowed? Why did you make me go through all this?

The blood of grown men runs cold at its sight. Women faint. Children scream.

What cursed thing is this?

It’s the dreaded dookie!

Ithacans Against Dog Poop

My town has gotten complaints for not being dog-friendly. After all, who would ban dogs from an outdoor pedestrian mall or a park on the lakeshore?

Ithaca, that’s who.

So the downtown business association is taking a survey to see who wants to open up the Commons (what we call our open air mall) to dogs. So far, every comment I’ve seen associated with the announcement (except mine) has worried about dog poop. 

Oops, I’m wrong. One person just wanted to be sure the dogs didn’t smoke. (grin)

Dog Poop Bad; Scooping Good

Dog poop is unsightly. It smells bad. It attracts disease carrying organisms.

Yeah, I get it. It’s gross.

And I’ve been as frustrated as anyone when I encounter the noxious pile left behind on a walk.

But here’s the thing: it hardly ever happens.

It’s been maybe two months since I saw unpicked up poo on a walk. I scooped it up and carried on.

I probably see a pile o’poop lying free no more than two times a year.

In my community, most dog people pick up on walks. If they didn’t, we’d know about it. Our lake would be dead from all the nasty stuff that washes into it from the storm drains.

So why does dog poop cause such a vehement reaction?

Dog Poop Makes People Insane

Golden Retriever chewing on stick

Surely anyone can see I’m far too refined to ever poop in the mall. Besides, if I did, i have my own personal poop fairy to clean it up.

Ithaca is famous for its nasty editorial letters.

I moved here from the town that threw ice balls at Santa Claus and where shootings happen every snow storm over shoveled out parking spaces. But I’ve never seen anything like the nastiness that appears in the pages of Ithaca’s daily paper.

And the most memorable letters deal with dog poop.

I’ll never forget three column inches from the man complaining about how Stewart Park was covered in dog poop. Yep, that’s the park that doesn’t allow dogs. And the dog poop in question? It came from all the Canada geese hanging out on the shore.

Unpicked up poop gets the horrified reaction I’d hope to hear in response to say, our president has authorized drone attacks in other countries that are killing innocent people. Or how about the fact that thousands of children die each year from malaria which could be prevented by a $10 mosquito net.

Yep, that sounds like something a bit more worthy of hand wringing, anger, disgust, and upset.

But a couple of pounds of dog doodie? Well, it just doesn’t deserve the intensity. It certainly isn’t worth shooting someone. So be a poop fairy and pick it up.

And save your rants for things that are really important.

I don’t expect anyone to come out as pro dog poop. But is it a big problem in your community? Or does it attract anger more suited for issues of death and destruction?

Pet Friendly Note: If you’d like to support Ithaca’s desire to become more pet friendly, take the short survey. Many of the complaints have come from tourists so I think they’d like to hear from people who make travel decisions based on how easy it is to visit with dogs.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. We unfortunately have a nearby on leash dog park, complete with bag dispensers and garbage cans, and the trails are literally covered in crap. Some piles are right next to the trash cans. :-(

    I also see unpicked up poop on my walks all the time, so much of it that I won’t pick it up unless it came from one of my dogs, or I’d have to bring a backpack.

  2. OMG this is sooo timely!!!! We live in a condo where there are 3 other dogs in our building.
    We pick up our poop, we pick up the poop of others but we have a woman in our building who not only HATES dogs but HATES dog poop.
    As anyone who has a dog knows, sometimes if you are out in the dark and visually challenged (as my husband is lol) there is sometimes a teeny-tiny renegade piece of poop (and I mean TINY!) that falls on the sidewalk and is missed until the light of day. That is when the POOP AND DOG HATERS inevitably FIND IT!
    She ran into me the other day complaining about poop. I told her we pick up our poop. She said she knows this because she sees us with the bag, but she thinks we MISSED POOP.
    She proceeded to take me on a “POOP HUNT” in the common garage (where the poop is dumped and sometimes escapes from the bag) and down the sidewalk where she pointed to TWO….tootsie roll size or smaller pieces of poop.
    I picked them up (they were hard as rocks, they were so small who knows how long they had been there)……
    Anyway……that is my life in the “poop lane”

  3. I made the mistake once of thinking goose poop was dog. Until I brought Delilah to the area and she started chowing down like she’d never eaten a meal in her life. That’s when I figured out it was goose poop.

    As you know we walk in the woods near our house and the people up there feel like they are in the woods and it’s okay for their dogs to poop wherever they want. If my dog runs into the woods and is a decent ways off trail, I don’t bother to pick it up. BUT if they poop on the trail or in the field I always pick it up. On the ocassions where we walk in a neighborhood, their poop is always picked up.

    I have had other people’s dogs poop on my front lawn without cleaning it up. When we catch them we say something to them, but if we don’t catch them….other than putting up a sign and a post with poop bags on it, I have no idea how to deal with it.

  4. I do not freak out. Oops. I did once when we attended a fundraiser at an animal shelter – in the dog park! – and watched several dogs poop and no one picked it up. Of all places! I could never blame the dogs but I sure wonder about their people.

  5. Married with dawgs says:

    While I myself am neutral on the dog poop controversy, I am and will forever be opposed to the following poop:

    Cat poop
    Horse Dung
    Bird Squirts
    Squirrel droppings

    Can we ban all of these animals from any space I might frequent so that I never have to see the offending poops ever again, please?

  6. While I know there are some owners who don’t scoop, I’ve never understood the hysteria that some have about dog poop. You cited one example, but there have been many in the past years of people coming to blows and even murder over the central issue of dog poop.
    I remember the snowball assault on Santa. I would think that moving from that city of brotherly love would not have been traumatic for you.

  7. Dog poop, in and of itself, doesn’t bother me. I scoop it in my back yard at least 4x/week. What DOES bother me are these people who walk their dogs at the park and ignore the fact that their dog just left a miniature cowpie smack in the middle of the trail. They just keep walking as though their dog was back home. Let’s face it: Part of being a responsible dog owner is scooping its poop when it’s “made” in a public place. It’s been too hot around here to walk my dogs at that park this summer. (it’s always at least 5 degrees hotter and 20% more humid than it is here at home.) But the first autumn-like day that we go back there, I will wear my “There is NO Poop Fairy…” t-shirt! and I’ll have some extra poop bags with me to hand to other humans walking their dogs!!
    I love this post by the way!

  8. People in my area are pretty anti-dog… or at least, the ones writing letters and fighting against putting in a dog park (in the most isolated, unused, tree-less part of our giant moslty-forested park). For the most part, though, people are good about pooperscooping. There are the weird ones who feel that putting it into a bag is the extent of their responsibility (you did the tough part! There are garbage cans EVERYWHERE… why did you just leave a poop in a bag on the sidewalk verge?!), but overall, not too much left-behind poop, and a surprising number of complaints.
    hilarious that the man was writing about goose poop, but terrible that you have a park that doesn’t allow dogs!

  9. We have a lovely variety of poo bags in a convenient carrying pouch we bring with us whenever we have the dogs out. But one walk around my neighborhood and you’d think we’re the only ones picking up. Every day we see at least a half dozen reminders of dogs who have passed by before us, and that’s in only a 3 block area. One neighbor lets his dog out loose every morning at 4am to do his stuff on the neighbors’ lawns, etc. It’s not the most fun in the world to pick it up but heck, it’s not that difficult folks!

  10. I can’t understand why people think it is okay to let their dog poop in public and NOT pick it up. Our dog park is very clean and most of the people are very responsible (sometimes a dog will sneak off while their human is deep in conversation . .but usually one of us with kindly point it out!). I was pretty disgusted with the sheer volume of poop that was not picked up when we lived in a “pet friendly” apartment – it was hard for Cali to find a clean spot to poop in! Blech!!! I hope Honey gets to take that trip to the Commons 😉

  11. Yes, dog poop makes me crazy. And the responses you’re seeing from the Ithaca natives illustrate my reasoning perfectly! Fear that people won’t pick up after their dogs is the most common reason that places are closed to pets. Because of a few irresponsible dog owners, we’re all punished. It makes me want to whack those people with my Poop Fairy wand!!

    That being said, I’ve been in many, many places that are dog friendly and remain free of abandoned poo. Even if the city of Ithaca had to hire a “Poop Fairy” for the sanitation department, I think the benefits would outweigh the costs. So many people are traveling with their pets now, it makes sense to cash in on the trend.

  12. Personally, I find the places in which dogs are allowed and even encouraged have less dog poop than those in which dogs are frowned upon. Maybe it’s my spiteful side but every time I see a “no dogs” sign, I feel the urge to get Shiva to pee every where. I don’t, she doesn’t know how to urinate on cue, but those signs just really bug me, especially when they are in public parks.

    Poop is gross, there is no doubt. And when it is left for several days it can carry parasites that endanger humans. But if it’s picked up immediately, there is no harm whatsoever. Most dog people understand that and respect their environments enough to pick it up. It’s these non dog people – crazies anyway if you ask me – who see imaginary poop in their heads.

    I will definitely take the survey. Anything to support the dog lovers of the world! Maybe if we ban together we can turn the non-dog people to the dark side. 😉

  13. Oh poop. I too hate to see other dog owners not picking up – it gives us all a bad name! I try to pick up other random deposits I see on walks in our neighborhood (I call it “paying it forward with the poop”) but at the huge dog park where we go several times a week a lot of people do not pick up. I can understand if the dog poops out in the field in the high bushes (we’re talking a 100+ acre park here, and the center part is full of high bushes/weeds that some dogs love to romp through). If your dog poops out there, it’s nigh on impossible to find. But what makes me really crazy are the people that don’t pick up poop right on the path, or even worse on the beach! As I was picking up our pup’s poop on the beach one day a woman said to me “Oh, you don’t have to pick that up.” I was shocked. “Um, yes I do. And so do you. Or it ends up in the bay!” Idiot.
    I also have seen NASTY letters in the paper about poop. One lady wrote such a nasty letter that I was like “Wow – who is this woman and what is her major malfunction??” So I googled her. It turned out she was a Nazi camp survivor! I decided to cut her some slack. :) Maybe all the folks who write such hate-filled anti-dog-poop letters to the editor have lived through something beyond my imagining. I doubt it, but you never know…

  14. We generally have at least one more poop bag with us then we think we’ll need. While there’s not a whole lot of random poop on our walks (sometimes there is- always in someone’s yard), there’s plenty of random poop at the dog park.
    We know that sometimes we just miss our dogs pooping (though with two of us who both like to know where the dogs are, it’s rare), or that sometimes they are far enough away that when we get to the spot where we think they pooped, we won’t be able to find it. This isn’t most days, but it is some days, and if it happens to us, it happens to others. So our general theory is to do at least on “karma” pick up on every visit. Sometimes there are numerous piles in the same area, and one bag will get 3 or 4 poops in it. Sometimes the poop is right on or near a path, so we just grab it.
    We’re not perfect- nobody is, but if everyone simply carried one more poop bag than they think they’ll need, and did one more poop pick up than their dog is responsible for, think how much cleaner every place would be.

  15. Unscooped dog poop is (apparently) what drove a local man to placing poisoned chicken mince balls in our parks a few years back. I can understand meadow muffins and sidewalk truffles annoying people but to drive them to murder? I suspect that’s why our local off leash laws are being reviewed…an angry anti-dog mob in the neighbourhood. They’re in the minority but they’re LOUD. Some people are just haters.

    I tried taking the survey but it just leads me to a generic sign up link. And btw, will we be seeing Honey in the cart pictures for the rest of the year? :)

  16. I’ve never thought dog poop to be a big issue anywhere I’ve lived – either we’re in the country and in most cases it is ok to leave it, or people must scoop it up quite the thing. The only time I was shocked by dog poop not being cleared up was when I saw a woman’s german shepherd puppy poop in the street whilst being dragged a long and the woman did nothing about it. The poor dog! The other bad poop I’ve seen is on the ferry on the outer viewing deck. My dog pooped there yes. I immediately cleared it up and put it in the bin 3 feet away from me. Other dog owners it seemed are not so caring of the ferry! The ferry deck is outside yes, but it’s not a garden or the street – it’s a platform on a vessel so more similar to an inside floor than the outside world… it is manmade.. so why is it ok for you to leave dog poop on it??

  17. We have signs all over our public park about how “poop pollutes” with a picture of a dog pooping. But there were piles of horse crap left to fester there all summer last year. I feel like there’s a rather nasty double standard here about dogs in this backwards corner of the world, while kids run wild and horses crap freely. *sigh*

  18. Your community sounds pretty awesome. Only about 2 stray poops a year! That’s great! I probably see them every day and I’m pretty sure it’s not from the people who live in our condo community. Outsiders like walking through our homes and grassy areas because we live on the golf course and I’m pretty certain those are the folks leaving their doggy dookies. I can’t wait to catch one of these people in the act. Actually I’ll probably do nothing and just pick it up, but in my mind I have a mouthful to say!

  19. We had the same issue at a local park – the city wanted to close it unless the dog folks did a better job at picking up poop. So we all planned a weekend to do a sweep and found NO poop. We were so confused. The park is still open, the complaints about poop are still there, but we still can’t find any!


  20. Oddly enough, I don’t see much “unclaimed” doggie doo when I walk the dogs. The problem that Brampton does have is with Goose droppings. The park where I used to take the dogs has such a problem with Goose turds that you can smell it while you’re walking. Here’s a little FYI. On average, Geese poop every 12 minutes and produce about 1/4 pound of waste a day. That’s quite a lot for a bird that weighs 11 pounds on average.

  21. This post made me laugh. I see all sides of the argument where we live: parks are not dog friendly, but the village installed some doggie waste bins; some folks would rather have multiple “no pooping” signs on their front lawns at all times than risk maybe possibly having some actual poop there at some point. In the park, where dogs are not allowed, you rarely see poop on the ground even though many people walk dogs there anyway. But on the streets that surround our little league field (!), there is so much doggie doo on the ground, I won’t even walk Desmond there. Meanwhile, I can’t tell you how much cat poop I have seen in my own yard and around the neighborhood. Again, I have to ask why it’s ok for cats to do whatever they want, off-leash, on any property, but dogs are looked at as some kind of evil popping demons.