I walked into the grocery store yesterday and had to watch my step. I counted more than a dozen piles of poop, some of them fresh enough to still be warm, before I made it to the meat counter. At the library, I saw someone pooping by the audiobooks, and the children’s area stank because there was so much poop. I am surprised parents let their children play near so much poop! I did see one person picking up their poop near the checkout, but the other poop was ignored. The offenders pretended like they didn’t see it and walked away.

This scenario may sound ridiculous, but it is what happens every day in our public spaces, on Derby’s sidewalks and in our parks. Leaving pet waste behind is not okay. In fact, it’s against the law. Now that the weather is warm, the problem has gotten worse (and stinkier) than usual.

The Derby City Council passed an ordinance in 2013 requiring residents to clean up animal waste left on public property, or private property not owned by the pet owner, or face a fine.

Not only is animal waste disgusting, it can carry viruses and bacteria that are harmful to humans and animals. You may be able to side-step a pile of doggie doo, but it makes its way into the watershed and is actually a major source of pollution. Animal waste can contain pathogens like e coli, giardia, salmonella, roundworms, and other diseases. Animal waste also contains compounds like nitrogen and phosphorus that change water quality and can kill plants.

Many of Derby’s parks offer free waste bags, abundant trash cans, and even scoops to aid in waste removal. If your dog tends to do its business on a walk, instead of at the park, there are a plethora of cute and convenient bag dispensers available to clip to a leash or store in your pocket. Or, it’s a great chance to upcycle one of the dozens of plastic grocery bags you probably have lying around.

Pet owners, I have news for you. Your dog’s poop smells bad, looks bad, is potentially harmful, and leaving it behind is against the law. It may not bother you, but when you’re outside your yard, please, for the sake of our city and our residents, pick it up.

In the end, keeping Derby clean comes down to a little good old-fashioned peer pressure to make it clear that we won’t tolerate poopers who don’t scoop. Talk to offenders, offer to grab them a plastic bag, and get their name. That way, if they don’t clean up after their pet, you can report them to the city.

Or, use the Make a Request feature on the city’s website www.derbyweb.com/requesttracker.aspx to report violations of the pooper scooper law. Click the “Animal Waste” link under “Code Violations” and report away.

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