Thursday, January 15, 2009

dogs, waste, and controversy

As many cities do, Seattle has laws on the books involving keeping dogs leashed and picking up after them. However, one of their laws also includes having a proper poop-scoop device on your person when out with your dog, which one dog owner is currently challenging. Reading through the comments is interesting, with a large sprinkling of crazy, but there are some points that should be addressed on this (stinky) topic.

Do I believe in leash laws and scoop laws? You bet your ass I do! All dog owners should control their dogs and their dogs' leavings at all times, but unfortunately many do not and thus laws are required to punish these offenders. My border collies do not need to be leashed due to the training and voice control I have over them (well, we're still working on that with the puppy), but the terrier most definitely needs to be leashed at all times. However, most dogs are not border collies and most owners are not me, so I understand and comply with leash laws when in appropriate public areas. I don't leash the dogs (ecept for Phoebe) when walking on my dead-end street, but I do when we go past the stop sign. I don't leash Jadzia at flyball tournaments, but I do so with Curzon. I don't leash the dogs to go in/out of the offleash park, as I can carry Phoebe and the other three stay right at my feet. If all dog owners were so responsive and knowledgeable about their dogs' reactions and needs, such laws wouldn't be necessary. And there is no question about picking up dog poop - always, it is absolutely REQUIRED by mere courtesy, let alone other arguments.

One topic that is concerning me is the concept of scooping the poop out of ones' own yard, as apparently there are laws on the books in some areas governing this. There are reasons to scoop your yard, ranging from smell/looks to possible bacterial contamination of groundwater, and again most reasonable people know this. However, this is where it gets a little difficult to deal with, especially when dogs with different diets are concerned. Our dogs are fed raw food, which means their poop is small, firm, and turns white and falls into dust within 48 hours. There are no carbohydrates for bacteria to thrive on, the poop dissolves very soon after it is deposited in the yard, and I see no reason whatsoever to scoop my yard. How can it possibly be better to wrap poop in plastic and send it to a landfill? I could see an argument for flushing poop, so that it goes through the proper wastewater treatment, but not for wrapping up poop from the yard at home and putting into plastic for disposal. I have a feeling that there is far more bacterial contamination from the flocks of Canadian geese that infest our city than from the dogs, and yet nobody has to clean up the piles of green slime from the parks every day.

It's really too bad that laws of this sort need to be on the books at all. But since they have to be, they need to govern what people do with their pets in public - NOT on their own property. I believe that someone who lets their yard turn into a stinking toilet for their dogs can be properly dealt with via standard public nuisance laws, there is no need to have a law mandating yard cleaning at certain intervals. If only everyone, dog owners, neighbors, and politicians alike, could simply show some common sense and decorum, the whole problem would never become an issue deserving of legislation. Ah, well, I can dream.....

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