My Case in Favor of Poop Patrol and the GGNRA off-leash ban:


Finally we have had some substantial rain to wash away the mess from 2013.    Miller Ave and beyond, our entire town is littered with dog feces!!  In an MV Patch post from way back in June of 2013 entitled Dog Poop Ecology, the author, Obligatory Obloquy, touches on a possible scenario that dog owners have no real intention of dealing with the poop.   This bad habit by dog owners of leaving the dog poop behind is suggestive of a mindset that these people’s own sh#t doesn’t stink.  Now I don’t believe ALL dog people do this.  There are a few inconsiderate dog owners out there that are giving all dogs a bad name.

GGNRA wants to ban dogs from being off leash on selected federal lands.  The city of San Francisco opposes the ban because of the fear that the ban will result in overuse of the city parks as dog owners look for alternate places to recreate with their pets.  City or federal land, it has really come to a head in that dogs are negatively impacting the environment enough to affect people’s experience of these spaces.  I love dogs AND I support this ban.  It is unfortunate it has come to this.  This measure is entirely a result of a handful of dog owners’ neglect in dealing with their pet’s messes.   However, I don’t necessarily think the ban will cure the situation entirely.  What we really need is poop patrol.   Dog owners absolutely need to be accountable for their pets.  Those few inconsiderate ones are not just littering garbage, they are littering feces.

Over the course of 2013 I have proudly strolled with my new baby up and down Miller Ave. and through our town.  I have become outraged with dog owners and their laziness in cleaning up after their pets.  In the June of 2013 article, Obligatory Obloquy suggests dog owners have a pathological disgust for their own dog’s excrement, which is the equivalent of disgust for feces in general.  I have dealt with my fair share of poop in the last year having a new baby.  No exaggeration, I have witnessed my little newborn poop at a great distance of 15 ft. shot over a railing and down a flight of stairs to land on the light switch next to the front door.  Granted, gravity aided the great distance.  Back to my point, if I left my kid’s dirty diapers on the sidewalk, people, dog owners included would be incensed and disgusted.  Wrapped in a diaper my babe’s feces would be likened to all the little dog poop bags that litter our streets and the great trails of Mill Valley. 

What’s with people not picking up after their dogs?  They even act as if they will if front of witnesses by carrying the little obligatory bag roll on their dogs' leashes.  One early morning, I observed a dog owner take a baggy out while the dog was doing his business.  My baby in her stroller, me, and another man were the onlookers passing by.  Once we passed, the owner and her dog acted as if nothing had happened and left the poo behind.  Outrageous!!!!  Dog people, you have a civil responsibility!!!  Get over yourself!!!

I quizzed a dear friend of mine who recently became owner of a massive Saint Bernard x English Mastiff and whom also lives in a condominium complex.  I asked him what he does with the dog’s poop when no one is around.  Does he just leave it there like it’s not his problem?  Does he think he doesn’t have to pick it up if no one saw the dog drop it?  His very civilized response was,“of course I pick it up!!! “  Then he quoted the famous basketball coach John Wooden.  “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” 

So who are these people who think it ok to leave their dog’s feces on the street only to entangle my unsuspecting baby jogger wheels?   Is it only a Miller Avenue problem?  Are the apartment dwellers, the one’s without backyards, allowing their dogs to crap all over our sidewalks and in our parks?  Is it a citywide Mill Valley problem?  Are people so elitist around here that they don’t think their own dog’s s&#t doesn’t stink?  No, this problem reaches far beyond Miller Ave. as substantiated by the proposed GGNRA off-leash ban.

Every day I see dog owner’s breaking rules.  ALL dogs are required to be on leash in our public parks of Mill Valley.  I’ve seen people let their dogs run wild in the playground areas with children, even in the sandbox.  I don’t put my kid in the middle of the dog park for her to play.  She doesn’t belong there.  Dogs are not welcome in the playground.  I don’t care that “oh, they love babies and that they wouldn’t hurt a fly or that my kid could poke the dog in the eye and the dog will take all the ear and tail pulling my kid can dish.”  I’m not going to allow my child to do that and I would expect a dog owner to recognize that a playground is for kids not animals. 

This may seem a bit extreme.  Like I said, I do love dogs.  I just loathe irresponsible pet owners.  Adhering to leash laws would eliminate a lot of problems.  Mainly dog poop would be much more trackable.   Though this means nothing if a dog owner cannot see past his own aversion to crap.  I have to believe it will take a group effort to hold pet owners accountable.   I have witnessed some positive group influence  at Boyle Park were one dog owner informed another distracted dog owner that his dog had crapped.  She courteously dropped a baggy on the steaming pile.  He became almost downright indignant as to say, if he didn’t see it, it didn’t happen, certainly not HIS dog.  But with peer pressure, he did pick up the crap.

Believe it or not, another dear friend of mine was recently urinated on by a giant Rottweiler at our very own Boyle Park.  Imagine a young mother and her 1 year old son peacefully enjoying a picnic in the grass.  All mom could do to protect her baby was hover over him while she took the blow.  Old Buddha, the dog, proceeded to lift his leg and pee all over mom’s back.  Incorrigible.  This wouldn’t have happened if Buddha was on leash.  End of story.  I have heard other reports of off leash dogs snatching food from other picnickers.  Another mom park-goer recounted the time a dog ran up and snatched a sandwich from her husband’s hands as he was about to take a bite.  Situations like this happen all too frequently with dogs running wild in public parks.

Are we supposed to tolerate this behavior?  At what point are the dogs taking away our human rights?  Believe it or not, there are actually people who are fearful of dogs.  An approaching off leash dog is a major threat to a person like that.  An off-leash ban is the ultimate and unfortunate result due to a small percentage of selfish dog people.  I grow weary of literally watching my every step every time I take my baby for a stroller ride.  I know that most are responsible pet owners.  I think it their job to assert some major peer pressure.  The littering of feces cannot be tolerated!!!   Rule breaking pet owners need to be fined.  There is a clear need for poop patrol and enforcement of the laws on this issue.



Mill Valley Mom February 12, 2014 at 02:39 PM
I do feel very strongly because I continually encounter this very issue DAILY and it incenses me. Like I said - not ALL of you responsible pet owners do this. I can't think of any other way to clean this up other than to enforce SOME sort of consequence. Will you join me in my poop patrolling?
Yet another Anon February 13, 2014 at 01:00 AM
Whew! I was just going to say "take a deep breath", too, when I scrolled down and saw that someone else had already said it! Having said that, though, I fully and completely agree with you that many people behave in this horrible manner, and it irks me to no end, especially since I have dogs, myself, but also because I am a professional dog walker, as well. Whether out with only my own dogs for a family stroll, or out with a pack while working, I carry an over-the-shoulder bag, and when a dog does his business, I pull out an empty newspaper bag, clean up the poop, and huck it into my satchel. If it's especially stinky, I double bag it. I've recently entreated several other professional dog walkers to do the same, with limited success. I don't get it - our very careers are on the line with the GGNRA bologna, and still they think it is their privilege to leave bags of poop along the path behind them. Go figure. But it isn't only the pro's responsible for the ugly messes littering our streets, sidewalks, trails and paths; it is the ordinary person with a dog. But let's face it, people of every stripe do all kinds of rude, ugly, messy things in this world. If you figure out a way to make everyone be kind to one another and to do the right thing, be sure to post it here or write a book or something. Clearly, laws don't work too well, common decency just isn't so common anymore. Btw, maybe read Elizabeth Colbert's book about the 6th Extinction. It's all going to hell in a hand basket, so really, dog poop is only just the tip of the iceberg. Happy mothering.
Mill Valley Mom February 13, 2014 at 06:05 PM
I should have written a different title. There already IS an off leash ban. But there clearly is no enforcement. And for the record there absolutely SHOULD be places for dogs to let loose. I am all for that. I do believe my gripe will ultimately go unheard and will be brushed off. I really wanted to stir the pot on this given people's timeline to speak out on the issue. I'm sure there would not be one person to stand up and say, "yes, I am ok with dog feces everywhere." Yet, one by one dog owners turn a blind eye. I suppose it is like telling another person how to parent.
Yet another Anon February 13, 2014 at 10:54 PM
I gripe right along with you, but unless people take it upon themselves to do the right thing, then no amount of griping is going to work. I've found it easier on my psyche to just pitch whatever poop bags I see lining the streets, sidewalks, trails and paths into my own sh!t satchel. At lease that way it only bums me out once on the way up the trail, and not a second time when I pass by it again on the way back. But it's not just dog people who litter - I once called out a little old lady, dressed to the nines in her Chanel suit, pill box hat and pearl necklace when she glance around, saw that no one was looking at her (she obviously didn't see me), then she hucked her tissue onto the sidewalk. Her response was that it's someone's job to clean such things up, and besides, there were no garbage cans nearby. I pointed to four (she was directly outside the front door of the Mill Valley Market), but she was too uninterested in doing the right thing to have done it in the first place. Yes, poop bags are disgusting and shouldn't be left hither and yon, but most human activity on this blue ball rolling around in space (a very rare planet with LIFE on it - at least the only one we KNOW of and have access to) is just furthering the rapid demise of life on Earth. I see VERY few of us who do anything at all to abate that. Try to not sweat the little stuff when we're all doomed.
Alek J Hidell February 26, 2014 at 04:30 PM
Take a video of the owners ventilating their dogs and present it to Code Enforcement. If you have a dedicated helper scoop up the feces and smear it on their front door. If it continues buy your teenage son a slingshot with ball bearings... More fun than paintball.


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