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Letter: Why 'Leave No Trace' Applies to Dogs

Responsible dog owners pick up pet waste, every time, no matter how remote the spot.

Do you own a dog? I do. I love my little dog. Dog ownership is probably one of the best relationships a human can enter into. Dogs are not jealous, demanding or have high expectations of us and there is nothing like a wagging tail greeting you at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter if you are fat, ugly and have no friends: that pooch is going to be by your side.

Like people, dogs are not perfect and occasionally need gentle reminders of the rules, but generally once taught it is not forgotten. Dogs will adapt to your daily routine: there is no compromising about what to watch on TV or what’s for dinner. They will go along with whatever you decide. Some people like their dogs better than their spouse for this reason. There are so many breeds that anyone can find a dog that suits their personality and lifestyle.

As in all good relationships, dog ownership comes with some responsibility. As the human counterpart you must look out for your furry pal’s safety and well-being. There are no short cuts here. You must provide food every day, clean water, a safe place to play and plenty of exercise – that alone is worth having a dog. If you take care of them they will give you hours of delightful pleasure.

There is another area of responsibility that many dog owners fail to recognize and that is the responsibility to others in regards to your dog. Just like we think of our children as the center of our universe, we also think of our pets that way, but not everyone shares that opinion. Keep in mind that there are dog lovers as well as people who do not care for dogs. No matter where you live your relatives, neighbors and friends will eventually get to know your dog, so it’s better to make a good impression than a bad one. 

Your dog needs to know the limits to his behavior when in the company of people. Only you can teach him those limits: no jumping, begging for food, chasing cars, etc. There are also other responsibilities with regards to your behavior like making sure there is a place on your property for your dog’s poop or, if necessary, picking up your pets poop when out on a walk no matter how remote the area. Many people do not realize that anything left on a roadway will eventually make its way into our drinking water through the storm drains or nearby waterways. When you pour oil or wash water into a storm drain this makes its way directly into our supply of water so does dog poop. The next time you see dog poop on the street picture it in a glass on your dinner table. 

One winter I counted 22 piles of poops in an area that is not quite three-quarters of a mile long. Every day a few new turds appeared almost like magic. Must be the late-night walkers that leave evidence of their nocturnal sojourns. I don’t blame the dogs for this because they don’t have much control over the situation; they are led to a spot while the owner awaits the outcome. I believe that dog owners have a clue that their dogs must poop every day, so I can’t imagine why a dog owner would not be prepared to remove the pile. I guess it must be laziness: it certainly is inconsiderate. I once saw a dog owner pick up a poop and throw in into a storm drain. I’ve also watched a neighbor push pile after pile off of her lawn into the street. Dogs should not poop on anyone’s property.

Milford has a town law that states you must pick it up immediately or you will be fined $25, not enough really. I would not want to pay $25 for a turd, instead I get to drink it. And so do you.

UglyHat February 01, 2012 at 03:39 PM
That’s disgusting. Thanks for the image. Now everyone make sure you clean up after your dogs so that we only have to imagine a glass of water with the waste products of cats, birds, bunnies, foxes, wolves, coyotes, bear and deer. Thank you for your cooperation.
Mike February 01, 2012 at 05:28 PM
I agree, that is a nasty image. But I do agree that dog owners need to pick up their dog poop. Nothing worse than waiting for the morning bus at the neighboorhood bus stop and having to watch that the kids don't step in all the piles of poop on the sidewalk, like one kindergartner did last week.
Mary MacDonald (Editor) February 01, 2012 at 07:36 PM
It's a necessary evil. The dogs that go on the sidewalks, I mean, come on people. I have two puppies that are already big dogs, and it's a pain, but you have to do it.
Jackie February 01, 2012 at 07:36 PM
What's nastier is stepping in dog poop in your own driveway or in the middle of a sidewalk or street and dragging it into your car and house.
Mary MacDonald (Editor) February 01, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Not to pick on cats owners, but outdoor cats are just as bad. They treat gardens like litter boxes. I had one in Jacksonville who was a royal pain. He was always over in my yard, his own private toilet.
carl berke February 07, 2012 at 05:22 PM
When I met with the study committee for the Milford Leash Law that was set-up to get state approval, I insisted that an effective and FAIR leash law implicated that not only dogs , as private property, but also cats, needed to be controlled. This is especially true since cat feces contains bacteria invasive of human embryos, but that they are also killers by nature, especially of birds but also of other small mammals, not to speak of their disgusting stench. Cat owners who allow their pets to roam are not good neighbors or citizens.
Mary MacDonald (Editor) February 07, 2012 at 05:26 PM
I take it you aren't a "cat person" Carl!

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