For the last several days I have been stepping over a pile of dog crap that’s nestled in the little strip of grass between the sidewalk in front of my Southside home and the curb where my car is usually parked. Even the six-day rain out we had during the last week or so didn’t have the power to pummel Fido’s gift of naturally biodegradable fertilizer into the earth. If it didn’t resemble a disgusting output of Hormel Chili (beans and all) I wouldn’t mind it as much. But there’s a bigger problem here.
The biggest problem is that people love dogs. Don’t get me wrong—I love dogs, too, but a 100-pound Labrador might not belong in a 1,000-square-foot townhome. The math just doesn’t add up. And if that same pooch can’t perch over a human-scale toilet to do its business, then there will be a daily pile of poop outdoors the size of which might as well have been left by its “person.” Therein lies the second problem.
The Southside is downtown, and downtown is paved. Roads, sidewalks and buildings make up roughly 97.5 percent of the real estate in downtown Chattanooga. Grassy patches make up the other 2.5 percent. By comparison, according to my crude calculations, 96.8 percent of Southside homeowners own a dog (or two). This means there are literally thousands of mutts mucking up our postage stamp of downtown yardage—every single day. This brings me to the third problem.
For every hip, downtown dweller with a dog, there are three more who find it incomprehensible to pick up their dog’s leave-behinds. “Oh! Look at me! I’m on the cutting edge of cool by living in walking distance from simply everywhere—just like New York!”
But did you know that in New York City you’d be fined $250 for not picking up your dog’s poop? It’s known there as Public Health Law 1316. Know why? Because it’s a health hazard to have excrement laying around town—just think of the middle ages. The Plague!
Currently, there are very few public places downtown where man’s best friend is welcome. Renaissance Park is the only one I can think of, actually. That’s because people around here are so lazy they want others to do their dirty work.
You can put a million pet waste stations with little baggies and a garbage can and people will still let their dog shit on the Walnut Street Bridge and keep on walking. We may be a “progressive” city on paper, but remember the movie “Deliverance” was filmed just about 30 miles from here. Think about it.
So yes, we need more pet stations—certainly at each new downtown housing development. Maybe it ought to be written into the building code. And then maybe we should institute fines for irresponsible pet owners who don’t scoop their pooch’s poop. Not just to satisfy complainers such as myself, but for the dogs, too!
I feel sorry for the canines that have to use the same old patch of grass as all the other dogs on their block. The massive mine field of feces poses one obvious obstacle, but what about marking “territory”? That would be very frustrating for locating the perfect spot to poop. Sharing facilities like that in a dog’s world is probably the equivalent of having to use a disgusting roadside gas station bathroom every time you have to go two-sies. The humanity!
Now before the cards and letters start rolling in from dog owners personally offended by these observations, let’s step back for a minute and look at this objectively. Don’t you agree that downtown dog ownership carries with it the duty of proper waste disposal so that those like me who don’t own a dog will never have to spend time flicking your dog’s poop out off the treads of our shoes with a sharpened stick? Good boy.
Chuck Crowder is a local writer and man about town. His opinions are his own.