Commentary

Dog Owners of Hamilton: Please Pick Up That Poop

Few things ruin a family morning out at the park like having to walk home to wash dog poop off of your entire family.

By Victor North
Published October 29, 2015

An open letter to the dog owners of Hamilton:

I love dogs. I love your dogs! I like seeing them around, and I hold them blameless for their pooping ways. But good god people, you need to start picking up their poop.

Now, it must be said that most of you already do. Some simple back-of-the-napkin math tells us that the vast majority of Hamilton's dog owners must be responsibly scooping that doody, or else we would be living in some kind of Victorian pedestrian hellscape with our streets awash in dog poop and horse corpses and whatnot.

But I have never lived in a city where so many do not. It's gotten ridiculous. What is it, Hamilton?

Do you think that the poop disappears? Do you imagine that city parks are like some kind of adorable doggy sewage treatment facility? With little Scruffers in a reflective doggy vest and hard hat, all managing a doggy doop aerobic treatment system? Because that would be awesome and I am all for it.

But when your dog makes a deposit, it doesn't go anywhere. Do you not remember that one dude in the neighbourhood who let his dog out to poop in the back yard, but only cleaned it up maybe once a year? That backyard was a graveyard of ghostly turds.

That poop lingers. Do you think rain washes it away? No: if anything, rain only returns harmlessly desiccated dried up doodys to their full sticky potency. If it seems to you as though your dog's poop disappears in parks, it is only because other people pick it up - either intentionally or unintentionally.

Other people like my son, for example. He and my wife played for maybe ten or fifteen minutes before bed the other night in the park next door. It was awesome! He ran around and chased his mom behind a tree, giggling and hooting with pure baby joy; the kind of free-based joy that life slowly steals from you until your own children give it back.

The next morning, when I still had full sanity bars, when I wasn't a broken man who posted cathartic screeds online, I went to put his shoes in my pocket to carry them to daycare. I did this because it is raining hard and he needed to wear his adorable li'l rain boots.

His adorable li'l sneakers were covered in much less adorable poop. Luckily I noticed before the inside of my pockets were also covered in poop, but we haven't always been as lucky. (Lucky in this sense meaning just having to scrub poop out of the grooves of a tiny sneaker, so that poop doesn't get spread all around a daycares floor.)

You know that scene from Scrubs that tries to demonstrate the movement of bacteria?

That is what your dog's poop is like when you don't pick it up. Our son, playing in a park, might fall in poop. Forget "might", this absolutely happens. The particular incident I'm thinking of happened maybe two months ago. Without realizing that my son had dog poop on his ass, I picked him up and put him on my shoulders.

Once I did that, the poop was close enough to my nose that it made its presence known. "Poop," I thought. "Is there poop on my son and myself?"

Yes, indeed, we confirm the presence of poop, but we can't know when first contact was made. Did my wife get it on herself from playing with Davis? Did he touch himself and get it on his fingers? (Toddlers pop their fingers into their mouths with great regularity.) Did he touch other children?

I can tell you, few things ruin a family morning out at the park like having to walk home to wash poop off of your entire family.

When you let your dog poop in a park and you don't pick it up, you may not realize it, but you are in essence saying: "Hmm. That poop belongs on a child. Yes. I do believe that I would rather see this poop smeared on children than pick it up, for that is the lesser of two inconveniences, indeed."

Most times it isn't so bad. Most times it just ends up on shoes. But I poop you not, we either make contact with poop in some way, or have near misses with poop, on every single family walk or park visit we make.

It's gotten to the point where I feel like parks are some kind of fecal minefield, every uncalculated step a fresh opportunity to reveal some new and horrible hidden secret. Which is, of course, a crazy over-reaction. But again, I have been broken by your constant poop-traps.

So what's the deal? Do you really think parks are enchanted land, a magic, self-regulating doggy waste elimination facility? In your heart of hearts, I imagine that you must not.

So is this some kind of self-hate? Another example of Hamilton's weird psychology of denying ourselves nice things? A "I poop upon the crappy, crap-filled parks of Hamilton; because it's no less than we - than I - deserve!" kinda nonsense?

If so, dog owners of Hamilton, I implore you to cut that crap out. We have a great city with great parks, and the only problem I can see is that you keep pooping on it.

Mic Drop

Victor North was raised in a small village outside of Ottawa. Since then, he has spent significant time in Windsor Ontario, Gumi South Korea, and Toronto Ontario before settling down in Hamilton. He lives in Corktown with his wife and son where he enjoys craft beer and long boards.

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By tim hortons cleaner (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2015 at 09:50:44

The great thing about owning a dog in hamilton is that there is no need to by pooh bags.
Every morning I walk my dog I can find more than enough discarded tim hortons cups to pick up my dogs worst. Thanks Timmie's your littler saves me dollars!.. The best part... the cup smells much the same when I'm done with it as it did before.

If all dog owners followed my lead there would be NO litter in hamilton.


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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2015 at 09:58:16

Yeah, the amount of time I've had to clean dog poop off my kids or comfort them after being threatened by a poorly-trained dog has pretty much made me solidly "not a dog person".

I was honestly confused at the urban chicken debate when that happened, because every argument made about disallowing chickens could be used against dogs, and yet we accept them as a normal part of city life in spite of the downsides.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2015-10-29 09:59:08

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By heh (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 19:02:43 in reply to Comment 114416

"Yeah, the amount of time I've had to clean dog poop off my kids or comfort them after being threatened by a poorly-trained dog has pretty much made me solidly "not a dog person"."

We could easily say the same about poorly-trained kids or adults, does that make one "not a people person"?

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted November 01, 2015 at 13:30:13 in reply to Comment 114509

Uhh...if you want to?

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By ryanwestdale (registered) | Posted October 29, 2015 at 11:23:22

I work downtown and here we sadly have to deal with both dogs and humans who leave turd traps for us. There is a side entrance to the old bingo hall on Hughson North near King where I have personally witnessed a person openly crapping. There seem to be regular droppings happening at this location - people who regularly walk that block actually move to the other side of the street to avoid that alcove. Of course, landlord and enforcement are nowhere to be found.

On John St, several times have I seen streaks left behind after people stepped in - and then tried to wipe away the damage from - a dog dropping. It's bad enough to leave dog droppings in parks, but on the sidewalks too? Wake up people!

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By heh (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 19:03:33 in reply to Comment 114426

You sure it's not waste from a raccoon, or something along those lines?

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By tim hortons cleaner (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2015 at 14:35:03 in reply to Comment 114426

No offence but access to a toilet is a considered a basic human right (even when your homeless).
Where would that toilet be downtown?

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By ryanwestdale (registered) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 11:38:47 in reply to Comment 114437

A person being homeless does not give them the right to defecate on a downtown sidewalk. And I would be surprised if the person I saw was homeless. Seemed more of a "I'm so wasted I don't know where I am" situation.

We are trying to have a renewal downtown, are we not? And we have people arguing that it's ok to crap on the sidewalk... . There is the mall and several charities in the area.

End public pooing in all its forms!

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By huh? (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 02:29:22 in reply to Comment 114437

that would be exactly two blocks west. there are many, many public washrooms in jackson square. (not that i dont agree with you that there need to be WAY more public washrooms in this city. we have basically off loaded this responsibility to the private sector)

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By heh (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 19:04:34 in reply to Comment 114458

Jackson square's toilets, to the best of my knowledge, are not open 24/7. Does access to toilets only occur during business hours?

They need to put them either at the terminal at Mcnab, or back in Gore Park.

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By Tim hortons cleaner (anonymous) | Posted October 31, 2015 at 20:44:01 in reply to Comment 114511

First off Jackson Square is private property, so most chronically homeless people would likely have a trespass order barring them from entering. It is not open 24/7 and the bathrooms are not publicly owned.
Any homeless people are chronically wasted and many chronically wasted people are homeless, it's a chicken and egg situation. Not being a Hamilton native I can't confirm this but I have heard there are public washrooms underneath Gore park they were closed at some point and the entrances blocked.

Urban renewal it should be inclusive and include even people with weak bowels.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2015 at 07:04:27

Yep, been there, done that too many times. Last time, we were biking trails in ALgonquin Park, seeing lots of dogs out with their owners, our 11 year-old daughter inadvertently rode through some dog poop, and her back tire kicked it up into her hair. Needless to say, the rest of the afternoon's activities were off, since we had to return to the campsite asap and wash her hair - wait in line for the shower at the comfort station, etc.

Once, I lifted a sneaker off of our boot tray at the back door to discover teeming maggots from dog poop someone had stepped in without realizing it.

One of my peeves is owners who "clean" up but not thoroughly. leaving smears behind on our lawn, still quite step-in-able - when I see someone looking like they are planning to let their dog poop on our lawn, I tell them to take the dog somewhere else.

Comment edited by Michelle Martin on 2015-10-30 07:05:16

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By heh (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 19:06:26

That's funny. Once we were out walking the dog, and she had to go on the lawn of an apartment building. Some lady was outside having a cigarette. She started to yell at us to "make the dog stop crapping on her lawn". We told her we can't force a dog to go on command. We also made sure to clean it up. We then saw the same woman flick her cigarette butt out onto the street. It made us chuckle, the double standard.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2015 at 10:51:21 in reply to Comment 114512

Was thinking about this - not a dog owner myself, but have on a couple of occasions hosted lovely, well-trained large dogs in our home for many hours (over the length of an afternoon and evening) that never had to relieve themselves in our yard, so presumed that routine or specific places to poop had been part of their training - so googled and found this:

https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/teaching-your-dog-eliminate-specific-place
http://dogs.kinja.com/5-steps-to-teachin...

Having said that, if those visiting dogs had relieved themselves on my lawn I am confident it would have been adequately cleaned up. Truly, if I know you and your dog and your clean habits, your dog can poop away. However, I have seen so much supposedly "cleaned up" poop on our grass (and tracked it into the house) that if I don't know you, I don't trust you to do it properly.

On a related note - once overheard a group of Toronto (see it's not only Hamilton, as a former Torontonian I can attest to this) dog owners chuckling amongst themselves about carrying a plastic bag for show, but if it's dark and no one is around, leaving the poop behind. Anonymity can certainly drive sloppiness, with poop or cigarette butts for that matter.

Comment edited by Michelle Martin on 2015-10-31 10:58:28

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted November 01, 2015 at 20:20:36

This is horrible. I had no idea this is such a problem, but I have to rant about something that I have noticed. Poop bags left on the sidewalk (with poop inside). This is something I see almost every day. I just don't get it. These people pick up their dog's poop, tie a knot in the bag and everything, and then leave it on the sidewalk! Why??? Please don't do this! Dog poop is one thing that is disgusting enough, but plastic in our sewer system is an ecological disaster.

Shaking my head

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