How to deal with dog owners who don’t clean up after their dogs

Picture taken by timaloney.

Like many other responsible dog owners, i am really sick and tired of having to navigate my way through minefields and minefields of dog poo when i am walking Mango.  Walking him at night is even more challenging as i literally can’t see shit.  Since my dog duties involve walking him every morning and every night, with the sun not rising until after 0730 and setting before 1700 in the dead of winter, i am basically doing two “night” shifts in a day.  Therefore i was not surprised at the number of comments left by outraged readers on a Seattle Times article about a dog owner who wanted challenged his citation for not carrying a scoop device (aka poo bag).

I believe the Israeli municipal of Petah Tikva has the best idea in dealing with dog owners who don’t clean up.  The idea is to register every dog in the municipal and to collect the DNA from them. If poo patrol finds droppings and DNA from the droppings matches with the DNA database, the registered pet owner will pay a municipal fine. This innovative approach was honored by New York Times Magazine in its 8th annual Year in Ideas.

Right now, we are paying $20 a year ($30 for a 2-year license) for an altered dog license in Seattle. To implement what Petah Tikva municipal is doing, i suggest the following and make them mandatory:

  • Add $30 or whatever the amount that is sufficient for the initial DNA collection. This is a non-refundable one-time fee.
  • When a dog is registered the first time, pay a $100 per dog deposit that will be held for at least a year. This deposit is refunded after a year for dog owner with no infraction. The city is free to put the deposit in an interest-bearing savings account. The interest generated can be used to give pet shop coupons or gift certificates for responsible owners.
  • If DNA from the dog poo matches with the DNA database, the irresponsible dog owner is fined $1000. The $100 deposit, if it has not already been refunded, will be confiscated. When it comes to renewal time, the deposit for the offending dog owner will be increased to $200.
  • Right now, owners caught with unregistered dogs are only fined $54. To “encourage” dog owners to register their dogs so that their DNAs can be collected, increase the fine for unregistered dogs to $5000 per incident. This will discourage those who think they can get away from the DNA search by not registering their dogs.
  • With an estimated 125,000 dogs in Seattle, the initial deposit will amount to at least $12 million dollars. That is more than sufficient to hire at least 50 additional animal-control officers (aka poo patrol officers) if we pay them at least $20 an hour for a 40-hour work week, which amounts to a little more than $2 million a year.
  • Too much hassle to check for unregistered dogs or dogs with expired tags? No problem. Add a weather-proof RFID chip to each dog tag. The RFID chip can be read from within 30 feet using a RFID reader and it will be easy to identify dogs with expired tags. The lack of a RFID chip on a dog tag indicates the dog is not registered and therefore is liable for the $5000 fine.
  • For those who cannot afford or unwilling to pay the $1000 fine for not picking up their dog poo, or the $5000 fine for not registering their dogs, they will be required to perform hours of community service as unpaid poo patrol officers. Of course, these unpaid temporary poo patrol officers will be supervised since they can’t be trusted as they are not even able perform the simple act of cleaning up after their dogs.

I have even thought of a catch line: Pick Up or Pay Up!

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