An Open Letter to the Journalist Who Says NYC Should Ban Dogs

The mounds of dog poop all over the sidewalks bother me, too. But dogs aren’t the problem here — negligent people are the problem.

By: perspective
Dogs have been living in cities for as long as humans. By: perspective

Dear Dave Bry,

While the rest of New York City has been enjoying the recent return of clear skies and warmer weather, you have apparently been stewing over 3 piles of dog poop thawing in front of your building. They have upset you so much, in fact, that you decided to argue for a city-wide dog ban in an article published by The Guardian yesterday.

OK, maybe those 3 disturbing piles outside your window weren’t the only catalysts in your anti-canine campaign, but describing the city sidewalks as tunneled labyrinths of feces seems a little unnecessary. Mountainous hyperboles aside, your point is perfectly clear. You are frustrated over the amount of dog poop emerging as the winter’s snow melts.

But let’s be honest: You’re not actually blaming the dogs for this mess, are you? Although your suggestion that the city should ban dogs as pets (instead of ferrets) would lead me to suspect that you do blame the pets, it’s actually the humans who are at fault for not lawfully cleaning up their dogs’ waste.

Best Solution: More Fines

Rather than using the 50 shades of brown across your beloved walkway as a flimsy excuse to ban an animal that you simply dislike, maybe a solution to the issue would be to entreat the city to enact (and actively enforce) stricter penalties for the negligent people who feel your front yard is a free dumping ground.

Ticketing and fining may not be a guaranteed solution, but it’s certainly a more proactive step toward removing the sidewalk eyesores than banning dogs from the city entirely.

Dogs Are Not the Enemy

As someone who lives in NYC with a dog and who is, in your words, one of the “good guys,” I do clean up after both of my dogs.

And the mounds of ignored dog poop bother me just as much as the next guy — unless, you, Mr. Bry, are the next guy, in which case I am not bothered quite that much — but I’m not nearly as irritated by those abandoned turds as I am by the 15 cigarette butts scattered around each pile.

If we’re going to really rally around a cause, let it be banning smoking from the city!

I can think of few habits that are as dangerous and disgusting. Apart from the obvious health concerns associated with smoking (y’know, like dying horribly and painfully), it causes a ridiculous amount of litter, not to mention air pollution. If your “pursuit of happiness” involves a sidewalk clear of biodegradable poop, then mine involves a sidewalk clear of non-biodegradable cigarette butts.

Maybe a cigarette ban is too literal since your dog ban was clearly a joke. It was a joke, wasn’t it? Please tell me it was a joke.

By: udctrash
Cigarette butts are more of a sidewalk scourge than dog waste. By: udctrash

No, Dogs Don’t Hate Living in Cities

At least you do dogs the favor of suggesting where they might find true happiness once they’re banned from the city – the country. With uninterrupted acres of green grass, the country is perfect for every dog. After all, they’re wild animals.

Except, wait — no they’re not.

Dogs have been domesticated for 20,000 years, Mr. Bry, and have been living in cities for as long as humans. I can tell you with certainty that my dog wants to live on a pasture and fend for herself about as much as I want to live in a cave and forage for berries.

Dogs are remarkably adaptable, and most manage city living as well as, if not better than, their human counterparts. Besides, over 80% of the U.S. population lives in urban areas, leaving very few McMansions to house the half-million dogs you propose we boot out of New York City alone.

Pick It Up Yourself If It Bothers You So Much

My point is, while your article was entertaining, you could have used the space to actually make a difference.

Next time, if your column suggests harsher penalties and active ticketing for dog-poop scofflaws, count me as your ally. But if those 3 piles of poop really were just an excuse to complain about an animal you don’t like, do everyone a favor and just clean them up.

If you’re not willing to dirty your hands literally by picking up the piles yourself, perhaps you’ll consider figuratively doing so. A hose and a few minutes of your time will wash away all but the haunting memories of those turds. Then you can spend your time doing something more productive, like working to overturn that pesky ferret ban.

Allison Gray

View posts by Allison Gray
Allison Gray gained a wealth of knowledge about animal welfare issues and responsible pet care during her nearly 5 years of work for an animal shelter. She is a writer, photographer, artist, runner and tattooed remedial knitter. Allison also has been researching, testing out and perfecting nutritious pet treat recipes in her kitchen for Petful since spring 2017.

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