On a recent Wednesday evening, after returning home from work, I grabbed my city-issued garbage can to pull it from the curb to my backyard. The lid was open, so I glanced inside.
And I unleashed a tirade of curses.
Once again, a green plastic bag, neatly tied and full of doggie doo, sat at the bottom. It was another gruesome gift from one of the many people who walk their dogs through our neighborhood.
If you are on the Nextdoor app, you’ve probably seen threads with scores of responses about this phenomenon — people ranting and raving about the unwanted poo bags deposited in their trash receptacles and dog owners responding with admonitions to calm down. “It’s a garbage can, what’s the big deal? It will get thrown out.”
A July 11 Nextdoor post from someone in Wyndhurst, for example, had 96 responses before the discussion was closed. The problem is widespread, too — definitely not just a Baltimore thing. The Tampa Bay Times called it “the eternal Nextdoor question.”
Let me tell you, my dog-walking friend, why it’s a big deal.
Those festering fecal packages do not just magically disappear when the trash collectors empty the cans. The sanitation workers don’t always lift and tip the heavy city-issued cans into their truck; they frequently just reach in, grab the bags of garbage and heave them into the maw of their vehicle — leaving your canine’s bagged refuse in the bottom of can.
It just sits there, ripening (especially during hot summers). Liquefying. Sometimes the bags go unnoticed, smooshed into dookie pancakes by the next load of trash that goes into the can. Then another dog walker passes by, swinging a plastic newspaper wrapper full of their golden retriever’s extra-fulsome deposit, and in goes another steaming companion.
And where does that leave me? I’m staring down at your lovely packet of Penny’s poo-poo, which I now have to … reach in and pick up? Right, like I’m going to touch that. Should I scoop it out with a nearby stick? I did that once, and the whole thing fell apart into a gag-inducing gloop.
Look, I get it. Carrying around a warm pouch of your pooch’s poo is, well, not the greatest look. And my garbage can is convenient, especially because the sanitation workers often leave the lid wide open. A quick toss and you’re on your way, no longer holding on to your embarrassing crap sack. If no one’s looking, why worry?
If that’s your attitude, I will just warn you: We’re onto you.
As my colleague Ben Conarck shared, lots of people are getting fed up with this irresponsible and grotesque behavior. Even a bit unhinged, as he noted, sharing photos of his neighbor’s can on Slack. There was a warning written on it: “TAKE YOUR DOG POOP HOME WITH YOU. You are on candid camera & will be on facebook as well.”
I get it, neighbor. I feel you. I, too, am increasingly unhinged.
Last week, my wife was walking to her car when she noticed one of those all-too-familiar green baggies sitting atop a bag of leaves she had placed on the sidewalk. Like a stinky cherry on an ice cream sundae. She started swearing, too. “Who does that?” she shouted. “Who leaves a bag of dog sh-t on top of leaf bags?”
If you’re reading this, Mr. or Ms. Dog Walker, please take note.
I’m installing a camera, which I can monitor 24/7, waiting for your next drop.
Be a good neighbor: Take it home and throw it in your own can, please.