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Much Ado about Poo

One of the many benefits of having cats is not having to walk behind them carrying a parcel of their poop. During snowstorms and rainstorms I can sit comfortably on my couch with my cat snuggled on my lap watching dog owners pass by holding their goody bags. Most people in my neighborhood are considerate about picking up their dog’s leftovers. But, when pet parents are irresponsible and don’t clean up after their dogs, what recourse does the public have?

In Madrid, citizens grew tired of the piles piling up on the sidewalks and in parks. At first, authorities tried a subtle approach as a gentle reminder to the dog owning public. They sent a motorized, plastic replica of dog poop roaming the area to remind people to clean up. The poop mobile only had marginal success so authorities went back to the drawing board to formulate a more effective plan.

I can only imagine what the conversations were like as they brainstormed a new plan. What the city finally settled on was hiring agents to act as poo police. It is their job to wander around the city in areas that are most affected and try to catch people brown-handed. These agents collect the abandoned poo, follow the owner of the creator of that poo then engage them in friendly conversation. During that chat, these defecation detectives casually find out the dog’s name and breed then use a city registry to locate the home of that dog. The poo is then packaged up and mailed back to the dog and its owner courtesy of the lost and found department. Included with the biological bounty is a note reminding the owner to be responsible lest they incur a fine the next time shit happens.

While I admire their creativity in solving this poo problem, I’m curious about a few things. What skills and previous job experience are required to land such a prestigious job as a poop collector? I’m imagining the interview for this position and can’t seem to think of a serious way to discuss this topic. How are the agents paid? By the pile? By weight? Is there an incentive program and bonus for the employee of the month? They managed to find 20 agents willing to do this dirty work, but once the poop is collected that brings to mind other questions regarding the second phase of this tough love dog owner re-education program – the mailing of the package. Do these agents hand deliver the care packages or are they mailed through the postal service? I know it gets hot in Madrid in the summer; hopefully they use some type of expedited delivery service given the perishable nature of the material being mailed. Exactly what type of packaging does one use to mail poop? A box? A bubble envelope? Sure, we can laugh about this, but according to the people keeping track of these things, inappropriate dog elimination has decreased dramatically since they began this program.

Here in the U.S., a community in northern Virginia has a more high tech method for those who poop and run. In addition to having dog licenses, this community has asked for a “sample” from each dog so that they can keep a DNA registry.  I’m sure this raises issues of privacy and infringement of the dog’s civil rights, but I’ll leave those for more scholarly legal minds to ponder. This community does not have authorized poop collecting agents like they do in Spain. Everyone is deputized to collect an offending pile which is then sent to a lab for DNA analysis. Once the analysis comes back, it is cross-referenced with the DNA database they created and the dog and owner are identified. According to my source, the offenders are fined and the board for the home owners’ association keeps those names on a list to be read aloud at meetings. I wonder if they refer to it as the shit list. As a teenager, when I was in trouble, my parents often told me I was on the shit list.  I thought they were kidding. I didn’t know that one really existed.

I’m all for public shaming of repeat offenders. Rather than being fined, these individuals should have to do community service cleaning up errant dog poop. It wouldn’t cost any money and it would solve the problem. As a taxpaying cat owner, I wonder how much money is being spent trying to rehabilitate these dog owners. While I don’t want to see, smell or step in these canine land mines, I don’t think it is fair for my tax dollars to be spent mailing poop back to irresponsible dog owners. We’re used to the government wasting our money on useless shit, but this is ridiculous.

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

61 responses »

  1. I had no idea that Spain and Virginia were going to such great lengths to catch these culprits! I have a goldendoodle who I clean up after, but some mystery dogs do leave nice little deposits on our lawn on a regular basis. Still, I’m with you on the poop encorcer/collector people. Talk about a shitty job!

    Reply
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  3. this was certainly news about something very old! what innovative ideas. but i like your suggestion about getting offenders to do clean-up. sounds very reasonable to me. the poor dogs, it is certainly not their fault. And Timmy thinks adopting a cat is a more practical idea, too.

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  4. I’m so relieved that I’m not the only blogger talking shit: I recently posted about the public poo problem in Ukraine. But in this country, dogs aren’t the offenders — it’s (spoiler alert!) the humans…

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  5. We could use that same system here in CZ. Although poop bags are strategically located in most parks and public places here, you can still see dog poop left on the streets.

    Thanks for making me laugh! 🙂

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    • I’m glad I could make you laugh.

      It’s been very interesting to read through the comments and learn how dog poop is dealt with around the world. I guess it is a universal problem that unites us all.

      Reply
  6. Congratulations- You’ve won the Versatile Bloggers Award. Feel free to take it or leave it. I know you’ve already been nominated but I co-own [insertnamehere] so I’m pretty sure no harm is done…

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  7. I actually have been on quite a few “shit lists” myself (for other reasons too numerous to mention). Paprika, you always make me laugh! Seriously, though, down here they have “poop stations” which provide bags and a place to dump the stuff. These are in all parks and throughout the neighborhoods. The best part is, they actually clean them on a daily basis (at least in my neighborhood). That being said, there are still people who don’t clean up…but there are enough nosy people here that I suspect the culprits don’t get away with it for too long.

    Hope all is well, and you’re enjoying your summer.

    Love, Paula

    On Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 1:34 PM, Good Humored

    Reply
    • I”m so glad I can still make you laugh, Paula.

      We have those poop stations, too. Most people are good about using them, but they do get a bit ripe by the end of the day in the summer. I often have to hold my breath when I pass one on my walks. But, that is much better than holding my breath while having to clean my shoes off.

      Reply
  8. Motorized plastic replica of dog poop? Really? Did the fake dog dung emit a feculent odor to add to the bizarreness of the whole idea? Also, I want to know what kind of crappy job did these poop patrol collectors have before that would make this job be perceived as moving on up in the career world?

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    • I can’t make this shit up. There really was motorized plastic dog poop roaming the streets of Madrid. I don’t know if it emitted odors, offered subliminal messages, made announcements or whistled a happy tune. The whole idea of the poop collectors leaves me with more questions than answers. If I had seen a help wanted ad for that job, I’d have applied just to see what criteria qualifies one to be a poop collector.

      Reply
  9. I wonder how expensive it is to run the DNA? Maybe if we had it back in 1994, OJ would have been convicted.

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    • I was wondering how much the doggie DNA test costs, too? I’m imaging that there is quite a cost involved in creating the database. I’m also curious about how long the analysis takes. Can you imagine getting a warning about poop your dog made 6 weeks ago?

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  10. I love your humorous asides on the side effects of doggie ownership.

    When dogs leave their messy calling cards on residents’ lawns, it does create hard feelings. Bless those who do the right thing and clean up after their pets.

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  11. I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award! Hopefully I’m doing it right and you’ve not got it yet. If you already have, take it as a token of my admiration (?) and award yourself the [insertawardhere] trophy. Good enough.

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  12. I love your take on this topic, all your questions about how the poop agent program works were spot on and so funny. I can’t believe this is real!

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  13. So much creative thought around poop! There are some great products out there, if people would only use them. Funny how you and I have been doing poo research. I’ve been researching brands for an article I’m working on and have discovered an unbelievable number of poop pick up options. My personal preference? Still the free plastic grocery bag from the grocery store . . .

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    • You are actively seeking information on poo for an article. My poo information just fell in my lap and it was too funny not to write about. As I was doing some more in-depth research on dog excrement removal systems I discovered that they all have one major flaw; they still require human intervention. I like your system it’s cheap and effective.

      Reply
  14. A DNA registry for pooches’ poop?! Genuinely? I’m speechless…

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  15. I love this article. Cleverly written, as always, and quite the discerning observation on poop pilot programs!!

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  16. With all this DNA evidence floating around…I wonder if we will soon need a Project Innocence for dog owners who were mistakenly condemned when really the lab just mishandled the evidence. Or another dog owner framed them by surreptitiously planting the poop. We may need to get the LAPD involved.

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    • The DNA thing does seem a tad bit expensive and involved to go through. I think you may be onto something with Project Innocence for dogs, but I suppose we are only just steps away from dogs/owners being framed and evidence being planted. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      Reply
  17. When I encountered a repeat offender in my neighborhood, I left a little sign next to the dog’s handiwork that read, “YOUR DOG DOESN’T KNOW ANY BETTER, BUT YOU DO, PICK UP AFTER YOUR PET!!” While the original pile remained, there were fewer additions. When another neighbor commented about the presence of the sign, I acted ignorant (which was easy), and replied, “Boy, what a great idea it was.” ….and they agreed.

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  18. gee, i’m really surprised genius like the poo mobile didn’t work. 😉

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  19. Thanks for giving me a job with which to entice my son to improve his grades! Poop-patrol!

    In Paris, there are people who go around the city on scooters with little vacuum cleaners to suck the poop. It is still all over the streets.

    Reply
    • Always happy to be of service, Elyse. Maybe they have a poop police internship that would drive home the importance of getting good grades.

      Thanks for the warning about the need for poop vacuums in Paris. Ick!

      Reply
  20. More reason to love a cat. Okay, so you have to contend with the occasional hairball barf but dealing with that you are still not at the mercy of the weather. Keep writing, Paprika – it’s the smile of the moment!!

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  21. Paws up for public shaming! (Surprisingly many subdivsions/apartment complexes are doing the DNA thing – you can’t settle in without registering your dog’s poop)
    One of the first things we did was teach Molly to go in the backyard and potty on command – it can be done. And is important in hurricane weather (Our Westie during one storm ran out during the storm, finished and ran back for a toweling – faster than you can blink.)
    We love to take dog walks, but not until Molly is done in our own yard. I hate carrying those filled bags. (but always carry an empty one just in case)
    We have dog stations with bags – Use them people! I hate stepping into the grass to let baby strollers or toddler bikes roll passed on the sidewalk – only to step in other dog’s poop! UGH!
    Cleverly written!

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    • I had never heard about the doggy DNA concept before my friend told me about it. It’s an interesting idea, but seems a bit over the top. People should just learn to be responsible for their pets.

      Our neighborhood has the dog poop stations, but there is still the occasional pile that I have to leap over if I step into the grass.

      Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

      Reply
  22. If I received a box of poop, I would be barking mad! But, we all know that this is the dog-owner’s duty!

    If aliens are watching us from another planet, they must think dogs are the rulers of the earth. How else could you explain one being picking up the excrement of another being and carrying it around?

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  23. I can just imagine the town council meeting where they were trying to address all these details about testing the DNA and mailing the poop back to the owner. Most town meeting that I have seen are very serious, so this must have been hysterical. You’ve got to hand it to them though – it’s really working! For the dog owner, I guess the traumatic experience of opening up a box of poop did the trick.

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  24. I have a witty and clever comment, but first please excuse me for getting over an initial burst of “eeww” at the thought of being in any way involved with the stuff rather than flushing a toilet.

    As you may have guessed, I am not a dog or cat owner but like them both in someone else’s house.

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  25. Took a brief work break to read your posting. As always, hilarious!! You put a much needed smile on my face. 😉

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  26. I love the idea of the offenders having to do community service by picking it up all over the place!! I’m a responsible dog owner and pick up my doggie droppings – but, I also don’t take my dog out much, and I think everyone else should be too!

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  27. Paprika, this was a shitty post! But you brought up some good questions. I expect here the poop would be classified as toxic waste and mailpeople would need a moonsuit to deliver. As a fellow cat owner, I also smile that I don’t have to carry poop bags daily. I just have to scoop the poop!

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    • I have a feeling the USPS would never let them mail poop. As you said, the postal workers would have to wear biohazard suits. I wonder if they have private courriers in Spain who deliver the special packages. Yuck!

      Reply
  28. That’s some funny shit, Pappy!

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  29. I really wanted to reply, but PwC has other ideas. So, I thought I would I would just say how wonderful and funny it is!!!! Never doubt yourself, you are a wonderful writer!!!!!!!!!!

    Thanks for the laugh!

    xoxo Me

    Reply

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