Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Idea of the day: Should pedestrians shame careless dog walkers?

June 20, 2011 - 02:42 PM
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Stable pedestrian life requires many factors but perhaps most critical is clear sidewalks. Waste bins are paramount to keeping trash from the road, for instance. When I lived in London, I remember seeing the Mr. Gummy machines adamantly scrubbing what seemed like endless amounts of gum from the British walkways. An idyllic sidewalk has flowers, gardens, smiling faces, people strolling with their pets...

...one sec. Pets? Yes, a cute puppy photo may be worth a hundred news sites, but our domesticated doggy friends can cause just as many pedestrian hazards as moments of cheer.

Consider the District Curmudgeon's complaint from today's blog post:

The dog defecated in the tree box. Again, something you see every day. The strange part was that the couple continued their conversation and began to walk away without doing anything about the mess the dog had left behind. Incensed that anyone could do anything so careless, I spoke up and said to the woman, "We're you planning to do anything about that?"

The couple stopped, glanced at me incredulously, then at each other. I spoke again, saying, "That's your responsibility. You can't just leave that mess there."

The woman nervously laughed and said, "Oh, I forgot to bring any bags with me. Do you have one?"

I couldn't believe where this was going.

The District Curmudgeon proceeds to describe a rather outrageous affair, in which the couple offered blank stares and smirks and ultimately sallied off without a care about the waste left in their wake.

How, both the blogger as well as I wonder, should any reasonable person respond to this sight? He seemed to have the right instincts in following the couple and asking the couple to remove the waste. Too often it's easy to look the other way when we see pet-owners not picking up after their animals. Dog-owners leave a trail of canine ickiness behind all the time. The thing is, eventually walking around the city becomes downright unpleasant and ultimately forces city employees--and its walkers--to pay for their neglect if no one manages to discourage such permissive behavior.

I lived in Arlington for awhile last year in a neighborhood where it seemed as though every person owned a dog of some kind. Freely available on the street were plastic dog-waste bags, perfect for pet owners who needed one, like the couple above. Having those bags so available is a good start, but the District Curmudgeon has another idea about how to curb animal waste on our sidewalks:

I'd like to see these people positively identified and publicly shamed. Some unfortunate worker from the Golden Triangle BID has probably already cleaned up the mess left by these anti-social jerks, but it would be nice to make sure they know that what they did was noticed, and that the people of this city don't approve of people who think it's okay to crap on DC and try to get away with it.

Do you agree? What better ways are there to allow man's best friend to roam the street without causing any headaches (and smells) for others sharing the sidewalk? Dog-owners out there, do you find it burdensome to worry about bags all the time?

The Curmudgeon, for what it's worth, followed his own advice and has posted a photo of the offending couple in his post. Shame them here if so inclined.

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