Be courteous: Clean up after pets

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    Evil doo-dooers beware.You may someday be in deep doo-doo.

    The number of people who own dogs but don’t pick up after their dogs is amazing. Walking for about 15 minutes around various neighborhoods, I would say I usually see three to four unclaimed dog doodles sitting there just waiting to be stepped in.

    My family’s two dogs are usually pretty good at finding them with the sniffing thing they do.

    According to the 2003-2004 National Pet Owners Survey completed by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, there are approximately 65 million dogs owned in the United States. Let’s say a dog does its business once a day – like most humans supposedly do. That would mean there are at least 65 million dog doodles per day.

    Could you imagine if no one bothered to pick up after his or her dog?

    The world would be a much grosser place for all of us.

    We’d have to navigate around millions of potential shoe-dirtying land mines. We’d have to scrape pet doodles off our shoes every time we went out walking into grass. During yard work, we’d have to spend extra time picking up after someone else’s pets. Who wants to do that?

    Some people would say: “I always clean up after my pet.”

    To that I say: Congratulations for being respectful of your neighbors and the environment.

    But sadly, not everyone is as considerate as those who pick up after their animals.

    In fact, the City of Fort Worth announced in 2004 that it would start fining pet owners up to $500 if pets poop on someone else’s property.

    “Residents should not allow their pets to do their business on someone else’s property,” explained a Fort Worth Animal Care and Control Supervisor Keane Menefee in a 2004 statement released by the city. “This new process will help residents who are experiencing problems to alleviate the nuisance.”

    That’s a pretty hefty fee for not cleaning up. But it’s needed because some people can be really thoughtless.

    Those that “doo-doo” their duty by picking up after their animals get rewarded without having to worry about a fine. Those who don’t can be reported and fined by angry neighbors seeking vengeance.

    Few people want to have to clean up someone else’s mess. That goes double for pet messes.

    So how can someone go about cleaning up after his or her pet?

    Ultimately, the solution really is quite simple.

    The City of Fort Worth suggests three tips for pet owners on its Web site, www.fortworthgov.org/health/mr/releases/poop2004.asp.

    Granted, not all the tips are realistic, but if anyone would just follow one of the tips, the world would have fewer evil doo-dooers.

    First, teach pets to relieve themselves in a certain area of your property.

    Well, that can actually be pretty hard. Teaching dogs to go outside is quite a task sometimes. And not all pets are smart enough when they have to go to the bathroom to go to a certain spot.

    When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. Like humans, dogs seem to look for the nearest place to relieve themselves. And before you know it, oops, they’ve gone on your neighbor’s front lawn.

    On to tip No. 2.

    Keep pets restrained. The City of Fort Worth says to keep cats on an owner’s property, keep dogs on a leash while walking and keep dogs fenced in at home.

    Most U.S. cities now have leash laws that require dogs to be on a leash while out in public. Leashes serve a dual purpose. Not only will they restrain a dog and protect other neighborhood pets and children, they can be helpful when it comes to cleaning up dogs’ doo-doo too.

    After your pet poops in your neighbor’s yard, kindly put the leash on the ground, stand on it, then proceed to clean up after your pet. With your 100-plus pounds of weight on the leash, that pet isn’t going anywhere until you do your neighborly duty and clean up.

    Fencing in yards or putting pets on a chain will also prevent pets from wandering around the neighborhood while doing their business.

    Third, the city recommends that pet owners always carry a plastic bag and a brush.

    While I can’t imagine what the brush would be for – except perhaps to do your hair – the bag would be probably the best thing a person can take with them.

    I would hope that nobody would pick up after their pets using their bare hands. But as long as people clean up after pets, the more power to them. Do us all a favor though. If you do use your hands, please don’t go around shaking hands.

    Plastic bags, however, are cheap. Anyone who goes to the grocery store or the mall gets plastic bags free of charge with his or her purchase. Any store sells sandwich bags for $1 to $2 depending on the quality and quantity. Cleaning up after pets doesn’t have to be expensive.

    Delivered Texas newspapers tend to come in plastic bags. Take the newspaper out of the bag, read the newspaper, and use that bag to pick up. One newspaper a day equals seven plastic bags a week. Pet owners could realistically walk his or her dog every day of the week.

    But if you don’t want to listen to my plea, and you don’t want to clean up after your pet, then please don’t take it for walks. Keep pets on your own property so you don’t ruin someone else’s day.

    Please, don’t make someone “doo-doo” your pet owner’s duty for you.

    Janelle Stecklein is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Plano.