I recently saw on the news an apartment complex in New Hampshire that is really cracking down on the problem of dog poop.
The owner of the apartment complex was asking each dog owner in her building to submit their dog to DNA testing so that when they find dog waste somewhere on the property they can track down the owner.
Owners get one warning but a second violation will call for removal of the dog or removal of the tenant.
Needless to say, the story caught my eye. I was just telling my husband the other day how frustrated I have become in our own neighborhood about dog waste.
I am not an Ahwatukee resident but in my neighborhood in Mesa we have lots of dogs. I myself am a dog owner. We go for two walks a day and I usually have up to three bags stuffed into my pockets for emergencies.
I can understand if not everyone remembers to carry a bag every time but for the past few weeks as we do our yard work on Saturdays I’ve noticed not only is there poop in my yard, but one neighbor has decided to move my rocks on top of the poop to try and cover it up. If I could DNA test that poop I would.
So, finding the story of the apartment complex in New Hampshire to be slightly ridiculous but possibly necessary, I decided to ask homeowners association leaders in Ahwatukee the extremes they might go through to find ‘who dunnit.’
“Being a 27-year law enforcement veteran, I can assure you that DNA testing of any living being is extremely time-consuming and expensive,” said Rob Robinson, president of the Ahwatukee Board of Management. “I can assure you ABM would never go to such an extreme. The expense of testing doggie waste for DNA could never outweigh the benefits and would be an unreasonable use of homeowner assessment fees.”
ABM offers a cheaper solution for homeowners. They supply bags and trash bins along walkways to make poop pickup easy.
At one time the association considered getting rid of the bins because the dump site they were using didn’t want to take the pet waste anymore. There was an outcry from the public, who use the bins so much they are filled weekly, and another solution was found.
“I believe ABM’s proactive approach at addressing and resolving this issue is much more reasonable than testing neighborhood pets for DNA,” Robinson said. “That seems extreme, to say the least.”
Chad Blostone, a board member for the Foothills HOA, said dog poop is not welcome in any public area but he believes it is not a problem worth the trouble of DNA testing.
“I think our area is pretty good. I think we do pretty well,” Blostone said. “There are certainly times when people don’t pick it up but I think that occurs infrequently. I think our dog bags and trash cans all help to ensure that the stuff is cleaned up. People use them.”
Blostone said he frequents South Mountain trails as well and rarely sees dog poop on the trails.
He says the worst he notices is if someone’s dog goes on the trail and the owner bags it and leaves it, planning to pick it back up on their way down.
If they forget, the bag usually sits there for a day or two until someone picks it up.
“I think that seems like an extreme response,” Blostone said. “You would need to be experiencing an extreme problem to deal with it in that way, in my opinion. That’s not something I would support spending that money on. That’s great that they can afford to spend that money. I suppose if it became a real big issue we would step it up. Fortunately, I think most homeowners in the Foothills are good about picking it all up and getting it in the trash cans.”
The owner of the apartment complex, in an article by the Union Leader Correspondent said, “A couple people have said it’s just way too much, but the majority of the people thought it was a great idea. If we didn’t have a problem we wouldn’t have to take these measures. We want this to be a place where people can have their pets, but we want other people to enjoy it too.”
For future reference: I could not find a Phoenix law that directly prohibited allowing a dog to poop in a public place. However, there were littering laws that could be applied to the problem.
I did find, in most CC&Rs I read, a provision about owners picking up their own dog’s waste and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department does clearly state in dog park rules that owners must pick up their pet’s waste.
In my own neighborhood there is only one dog waste station, which is located in a nearby park. The HOA sends out a little reminder with each quarterly newsletter to pick up the poop.
DNA testing may be out of my reach but I’ll be keeping an eye out for that neighbor who thinks they can cover their tracks. I’ll even let them borrow a bag.