Monday, November 10, 2008

New gate latches, new bench, and a bit of bad news for dog owners in general.

If you thought you noticed something different when you were going through the double gates in the last few days, your senses were not misleading you. Jerry has installed four new latches, two for each gate, of the easy-to-use design he put in on the original gates, some time back. This time out, the latches were paid for by Marjorie, Paris & Tula's person.

Donations of 60 dollars were also recently made by John & Liz (Xocha the St. Bernard's people) and Julie (Tucker the German Shepherd Dog's person). We can't afford engraved brass plates on the run fence or anything like that, but we certainly do express our sincere thanks for such generous and civic-minded members of our little community--and their people are nice too. ;)

We've also got a new bench, near the north gate. Please note the strategic location--far enough from the fence so that it can't serve as a launch-pad for some ambitious pooch to vault over it in pursuit of some snarky squirrel. We're probably nearing the limit in terms of how much seating we can accommodate, but hopefully we now have enough for even the busiest weekend afternoon, or summer evening.

If you're interested, Washington Tykes had logged around 3,000 visits by the middle of last month--I installed the web counter the previous October. I know I need to update more often, and I'm going to make a serious effort to post a new article at least once a week.

Over at the Inwoof yahoogroup, a bit of disturbing news has been posted--I can't find the article they're referring to, but reportedly the increase in the fine for not picking up after your dog (from $100 to $250) has been accompanied by a renewed focus on the long-ignored language in the pooper scooper law that says you have to 'curb' your dog. In other words, it's illegal for your dogs to relieve themselves on the sidewalk, even if you always pick up, and even though dog urine is one of the most harmless substances on your average city pavement.

This aspect of the law has long been ignored in most parts of the city, due mainly to the near-impossibility of enforcing it consistently, but the increased fine may have led to an increased incentive on the part of soon to be cash-starved city agencies to crack down. The NYPD has rarely, if ever, felt moved (heh) to enforce this law, but Parks Enforcement Patrol is another matter.

Out on city sidewalks, watch out for employees of the Sanitation Department, and particularly these guys. They are rarely seen in Washington Heights, and I'd appreciate a shout-out from anybody who sees them out on poop patrol here, or hears a story about somebody getting ticketed in the neighborhood.

I don't know if your average guy working on a garbage truck is going to ticket you, but why take the chance?

As I've mentioned in the past, I have no sympathy for people who choose not to pick up after their dogs, assuming they are physically capable bending down to do so. They are giving all of us a black eye with the public at large--a black eye, and all too often a brown foot. It's thanks mainly to their selfish behavior that we're getting hit with this fine increase, though I do suspect that we're being treated as an ATM machine by the city again.

As to the curbing thing--well, it is true that even armed with a pocket full of plastic bags, it's sometimes just not possible to clean up perfectly after your dog. And by the same token, it's not possible to perfectly control where your dog defecates and urinates. It just isn't. You can't possibly explain a city ordinance to your dog. Max will sometimes stop and squat in mid-trot. And if your dog is suffering from diarrhea, you're hardly going to be able to make him wait until you get out on the street--you'll be lucky if he makes it outside at all.

And face it--it's just not safe to stand around on a New York City street with your dog, waiting for the spirit to move him or her. I've seen people doing it in midtown (where I guess there's a lot more enforcement of the poop law), and it's just plain dangerous. I've seen cars race down the narrow street in front of my building at over 40mph--and never get ticketed for it, I might mention. I'm not risking my life or Max's to appease a badly written statute. There is no significant health hazard posed by the occasional bit of poop residue on the sidewalk. We can't do better than our best, and we shouldn't be expected to.

As an aside, found this blog article with photographs of several different generations of NYC poop-related signage. Please note that the curbing aspect of the law was never really spelled out in any of them.

Don't worry too much about it--even most of the people who deserve a ticket never get one (more's the pity). If there is a real crackdown in progress, it probably won't hold up over time. As with all things related to the subject at hand, this too shall pass.

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