Sunday, April 05, 2009

Warning: Don't Read Before Lunch

Every year about this time I complain about the tiny but loathsome minority of dog-owners who don't pick up their dogs' turds all winter. When the sidewalk snowbanks melt, an enormous quantity of previously-deep-frozen doo-poo precipitates out. It's nasty.

This year I learned that the saintly owner of a local pet store was organizing a volunteer dog-shit pick-up event, with brigades to form at both ends of the city. I resolved to help. So I got up at 7:30 (a.m.) yesterday (Saturday) and headed for the rendez-vous location.

Five people showed up (including the brigade captain.) Two of the five didn't even own dogs. Our combined assigned "beats" represented only a small fraction of the 'hood's sidewalk area-- but I picked up somewhere in the vicinity of 150 dog shits. I filled one garbage bag until it was too heavy to carry comfortably, then filled another to the same point. I had to pass over quite a few that had liquified beyond the point of being taken by hand. Some had weird contents that looked like mattress stuffing. Two I found with wads of toilet paper on top of them-- I don't even want to know. In summary, I did about six months of dog-owner clean-up duty compressed into two hours. In the process, dozens of saturday-morning dog-walkers strolled past me. Not one asked what I was up to. In fact, none of them even said hello.

Overall, this was the single grossest thing I've ever done, medical school experiences notwithstanding. I came close to vomiting several times. I don't think I'll be doing it again.

The Smallish City Code of Ordinances very clearly requires dog owners to pick up after their dogs. Violation, in theory, leads to a penalty of $250, or alternatively 25 hours of community service, which "shall consist of removing canine waste within the city."(!) I doubt this punishment has ever been meted out. But it should be. If each offense that I personally rectified yesterday had received the legal sentence required by ordinance, it would represent $37,500 of income for the City. Or nearly two years of free, full-time sidewalk-cleaning labor. And I think they should have to wear orange jumpsuits. Reading "CONVICT". And smeared in shit.


Blogger Emily said...

Thank you for your serious service to the city. I am astounded by you and your fellow volunteers.

Thank you also for validating the reason why I hated spring. Growing up in a small town outside of this city, I always associated spring with the smell of melting dog shit. It wasn't my imagination.

4/12/09, 6:31 PM  

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