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Neighbors arguing about how to deal with dog poop is a phenomenon as old as dog poop itself. Today’s episode of dog-poop feuding comes courtesy of Hill East’s email list, which includes all the components  of a classic dog-poop debate. Would you like to discuss dog poop with your neighbors? Consider following Hill East’s model. (Names have been reduced to initials to protect the residents.)

Angry Intro

M: Today, some jerk put a loaded dog-poop bag inside my emptied trash container.
PLEASE DO NOT PUT DOG POOP BAGS INSIDE OTHER FOLKS TRASH CONTAINER….. instead, simply disposal of it in a city street corner trash receptacle, or take it back home to your trash container!

Second the Intro

T: Please keep the poop off the streets. But don’t put it in the nearest trash can. A can. Used to hold trash.

Call for Civility

R: M, 
Isn’t it a bit too much to call this person a “jerk”?  Would you have preferred if this “jerk” left the crap on the street for you to step in?  Is your garbage can so pristine that you have a preference for what type of wastes go in there?  I know in a perfect world dog owners would throw their dog crap away in their own can (for the record, I always use my own can to throw out the poop), but at least this person was throwing it out. This list is always aflame with people who complain about people not cleaning up after their dog…….well this person did.

Rebut Call for Civility

M: Okay R…maybe a**hole would have been more fitting!

Examine Logistics of Poop Disposal

J: I don’t have a dog (or dog poop) in this fight, but I did want to mention that DPW does not have trash trucks that grab the can and tip/shake it, so often a collector tips it himself or, if it’s just two big bags of trash in the can, takes them out without ever ripping the can.  People put dog poop in my can, too -which I don’t mind – but the effect over time for me has been that little debris including poop bags builds up at the bottom of the can. Obviously, the trash collectors aren’t reaching down into the can to grab little bags of poo. When they do tip the can, sometimes the little bags fall in the street, thereby re-creating the whole problem the bags were meant to solve. Poop is now in the street. DPW doesn’t pick that up, either.

I guess what I’m saying is, good on the dog owners who keep poop off the sidewalks. But when you toss the bag, try to put it inside a larger bag so that it makes it to the landfill!

Repeat Everything That Was Just Said

A: Just want to support what Josh is saying. I don’t have a problem with dog owners putting bagged poop in my trash can if they put it inside a larger garbage bag as Josh described.  The problem is that the DPW workers usually pull out the large trash bags, leaving the small poop bags to collect in the bottom of the can for a long time.

I’m also a dog walker and I always put my dog’s poop in the city trash cans or in my own.  I know what it’s like to deal with leftover poop in a trash can and I don’t want anyone else to have to deal with that!

Invoke Trash Removal Costs

J.F.: As one who lives in a building that must pay trash removal on its own, I feel the same way about someone else’s dog poop as I do about someone else’s candy wrappers or someone else’s trash from their meal at McDonald’s.
Thank you for not letting it sit on the sidewalk or on the grass.  However, our trash cans are not there for the use of people who happen to be walking by.

Insert FYI and Rebut with Facts

R.E.: Just FYI to everybody, the big green Supercans (and the blue recycle ones too for that matter) are owned of the District of Columbia government and are not anybody’s private property.

Rebut FYI with Other FYI

M: Just FYI, R.E…… both the trash and recycle receptacles are only issued to those who pay D.C.  property taxes!

Make Vague Reference to Voting Discrimination

R.E.: under that reasoning only people who pay property taxes should vote and use public parks. surely you dont mean that, right?

FYI About Tool That Fixes Everything, Including Lack of Civility

J: Just FYI: for about $20, I got a thing from the hardware store that’s billed as an ornament grabber but is really just a trash picker-upper. It’s stick with a squeeze handle on one end and pincers on the other end. I use it to both pickup trash off my lawn/out of the bushes and, now, to get poo bags out of the bottom of my trash can. It works great, I don’t have to reach down into the can, and I don’t have to be mad at anybody.

Pun, Possibly Unintentional

A.W.: I don’t give a crap about this.

Pun, Definitely Intentional

J.F.: Yeah, can we bag this discussion?

Angry Hyperbole

E: Yet, we have the pay the city for their replacement?  By that argument the sidewalks are owned by the city, and the parks, and roads.  I guess I can just throw my dog crap where ever I want?  Awesome!

Quote Regulatory Code


No, it can’t be left or thrown anywhere.

900.6 No person owning, keeping, or having custody of a dog in the District shall permit the dog to be confined in any yard
or other enclosure, or on any private property, or in any automobile or other vehicle, in a manner that allows the dog to
bite or menace persons lawfully using any public street, highway, or public space.
900.7 No person owning, keeping, or having custody of a dog, except a seeing eye dog, shall allow or permit the dog to defe
cate or urinate on public parking or any sidewalk or in any and each such person shall immediately remove dog excrement
from any curb, gutter, alley or street.
900.8 No person owning, keeping, or having custody of a dog, except a seeing eye dog, shall permit the dog’s excrement to
remain on private property without the consent of the owner or occupant of the property.
900.9 Any person violating any provision of §§ 900.1 through 900.6 shall be punished by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars ($ 300), or by imprisonment not exceeding ten (10) days.
900.10 Any person violating §§ 900.7 or 900.8 shall be subject to civil sanctions provided in the Litter Control Administration Act of 1985.

Quote Scripture

M: (Proverbs 26:4) Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.

Something About Property Lines

A: R.E.,

 check the property boundary lines for most of the town houses in our neighborhood; in most cases the city actually has a claim that the land up to the porch is city property! Found that out at closing. Thought you might want to know, so you can scope out which lawns have the best picnic spots.
 Also, I had to pay out of pocket for my extra recycling cans, so if anyone wants to use them for dog poop please use the one that came with the house. That’s the one that belongs to the city, after all.

Something Else About Property Lines

J.H.: the green DC trash cans are public property and the trash can is on public property (i.e. public alley)…well then, per 900.8, it looks like dog owners can utilize those trash cans.  no?
on another note, i frequently pick up litter that covers our sidewalks and streets.  you know…to be a good neighbor and help have a cleaner looking neighborhood.  I deposit the litter in the closest garbage cans I see that aren’t on private property.  is that not allowed either?  just curious.

Mention Rats and Make Threats

T: DPW website says not to put poop bags in the cans because it attracts rats. If I ever catch anyone putting poop in mine, they are getting it right back and I’ll be publishing their picture.

Second Threats


Exactly, I with you, T.!

Quote Tips for Dog Owners

M: Per D.C. Dept. of Public Works: http://dpw.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dpw/publication/attachments/DoggyDuties.pdf)
Leaving dog waste behind is not just unsightly and irresponsible, it’s a health hazard. Rain can wash fecal matter into storm water drains, and contaminate our drinking water and marine life with such bacteria as E. coli, Salmonella, and Tapeworm. Excrement left behind on the ground also can pass diseases, intestinal parasites, and infections on to dogs, adults, and children.  And, you or your dog can step into the waste then track it into your home or car.
DPW reminds residents walking their dogs to Pick Up the Pieces!
Have a Bag it Up Plan! Keep a stash of bags in your car, coat pocket, or in a small purse fastened to your dog’s collar.
Keep it Green! Use compostable biodegradable dog poop bags instead of plastic bags, which can remain in landfills for centuries before decomposing.
Make it Easy! Use a poop scoop and bucket, or other devices, to avoid bodily contact with waste and  strain from bending or crouching.
Take it with You! Place the filled dog poop bag(s) into a single bag before placing them in your lined trash can. You also can flush the poop (you can use flushable bags made of polyvinyl alcohol film that dissolves in water), or use a pet waste composting system, which breaks the poop down into a harmless, ground-absorbing liquid. If you choose to flush, make sure your toilet can handle the load.
Please be kind to your neighbors and avoid putting your bagged poop into your neighbor’s trash container or a public litter can. Not only does it attract rats, who eat the feces, the contents of the bag can leak out into the can or onto the street, leaving someone else to clean up after your pet. Residents who allow their cats outdoors also should follow these recommendations.
For more information about DPW, please visit our Web site at www.dpw.dc.gov.

Mention the Laziness of New Neighbors and/or Lethal Viruses


 You’re mostly right…but partly wrong: The city provides free trash and recycle cans, but we have to pay for replacements. I think $65 is the going rate now. Setting aside the ownership issue, it’s a pain to have to dumpster dive into your house trash can to remove somebody else’s dog poop. Is it really that much to ask people to respect somebody else’s space and dump poop in their own can or in a public street corner receptacle?
    Regarding a more important secondary point, I clean up litter daily in my neighborhood and, of late, have noticed an exponential explosion in dog feces on the sidewalk. I don’t know what accounts for so many people suddenly not cleaning up. A wave of new Hill East dog owners? Folks too lazy too clean up in cold weather? All I know is I picked up about 30 turds on just one block of 18th Street last week. In addition to being disgusting, it’s a health hazard for dogs. Feces is a prime way to spread the potentially-lethal circovirus.
 Please scoop your poop!

Mention Selfishness and Cavalier Attitude of New Neighbors


There’s a poop bag in the gutter in front of my house with the contents smashed and spilling out. Happens all the time. People don’t realize or care that their cavalierly discarded poop bags often end up creating the same filthy mess as    the poop left on the sidewalk. And the amount of poop being left on the sidewalk is ridiculous. What kind of person does that? What is happening to this community? When did our neighbors become so selfish?

Call to Follow Regulations

 Some of these poop issues could be avoided if residents would follow DPW regulations, from DC.gov s web site – Avoiding a Sanitation Ticket

Make a Smart-Ass Comment

R: I usually just hold my dog over the trashcan. So much easier.

Invoke the Blind  

P: what if the “jerk” that caused this whole debate turns out to have been blind?  See the DC Code of Regulations pertaining to dogs crapping on OPP…
”900.8 No person owning, keeping, or having custody of a dog, except a seeing eye dog, shall permit the dog’s excrement to remain on private property without the consent of the owner or occupant of the property.”

Something with Bad Punctuation

M2: Who’s trashcan?

Call for Closure

Z: If this thread is dead, could we let it rest in peace, please?  I’m tired of the inbox spam.

Photo via flickr user mslavick