Southern Shores’ local social network Next Door has gone to the dogs lately.
More specifically, residents have been chewing over the problem of what to do about scofflaw dog owners who do not pick up what their four-legged companions deposit while out on their walks.
In modern-day vernacular, these scofflaws are not scooping the poop.
The latest thread of comments about un-scooped poop—or poop that is scooped and left in bags by dog owners on the side of the road or in other people’s yards—started with a Chicahauk homeowner’s complaint about a serial un-scooper whose dogs regularly deposit their feces on his front yard.
The homeowner, who lives on a dead-end street off of Trinitie Trail, photographed the serial offender this morning and shared the photo above on Next Door, in the hope of identifying the man and resolving the circumstances.
Other tactics, such as posting the Town of Southern Shores ordinance about the mandatory removal of dog feces (sec. 4-27, see below), have not worked for him.
The homeowner reported that he has even caught “several offenders. [But] they carry bags with them just in case someone is watching.”
“Every other day,” the homeowner writes, he removes “doggie bombs” from his property. Such bombs are not only a hygiene problem, they are a public-health hazard.
After weighing our concern about “outing” this neighbor, we decided that publishing the photo would be a public service.
The days of dogs ranging freely and people stepping in dog “doo” and taking it in stride are long gone. Old dogs who act otherwise have to learn new tricks.
We ask anyone who recognizes the offending dog owner above to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the Chicahauk homeowner, the man walks a Rottweiler, who was off-leash this morning (another infraction), and another large dog that looks from the photo like a Labrador.
Frankly, we think this man is giving dogs and their owners a bad name. Many of us are conscientious and responsible and would never dream of not cleaning up after our dogs.
On my street—Hickory Trail near East Dogwood Trail—dog-walking behavior is monitored by a neighbor I affectionately started calling the Poop Nazi (like Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi), after he paid two unsolicited visits to me after I got my pup, Augie: Once, to give me a roll of poop bags, and the second time, to instruct me on the proper use of them.
I wasn’t keen on his presumptuousness, but I was even more taken aback to learn that neighbors had informed him that my dainty method of collecting Augie’s stools was wrong. I was being watched!
Curbing my defensiveness, I graciously accepted the bags and the advice. If we had a problem like the Chicahauk homeowner has, I know the Poop Nazi would intervene and informally resolve it.
But there are many other dog owners, as the neighbors who responded to the Chicahauk homeowner’s Next Door post attested, who are irresponsible, lazy, slack, unhygienic, and just plain annoying and thoughtless.
One woman wrote that dog feces are an “issue up and down [the] OBX,” even in the four-wheel drive area north of Corolla. She said she has stepped in feces twice on the Corolla beach.
More than one neighbor wrote about dog owners who scoop the poop, but then cannot be bothered with disposing of it properly, leaving bags in the street or on someone’s front yard for another person to remove. We have encountered this bizarre (pathological?) behavior, too.
Some weeks ago, another Next Door correspondent who lives on Ocean Boulevard near the East Dogwood Trail beach access complained about the dog waste there. The SSCA provides both scoop bags and a trash can, but dog owners are not availing themselves of either, the homeowner said.
On a personal note, I have friends who stayed on the Southern Shores oceanfront in April 2019 and said they would never return because the beach was “a toilet.”
On streets, but especially on the beach, where people are walking bare-footed and children are playing in the sand, dog feces are more than a messy inconvenience. Like all fecal material, dog poop contains potentially disease-causing bacteria, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli, pathogens for human intestinal-tract disorders.
A quick search this morning of the risks to public health that dog feces present left us impressed by the number of potential diseases they may transmit. Fecal material, regardless of who produced it, is never a good thing to have lying about.
For the record, Southern Shores’ ordinance, titled “Mandatory removal of feces,” states:
“Each and every person, owner, keeper or custodian of any dog shall immediately remove all feces deposited by the dog they are accompanying. The removal of feces shall be accomplished by depositing such feces in a sanitary container. Burying feces in the sand or depositing in any body of water is prohibited and constitutes a violation of this section.”
Dogs that are “off the premises” of their owner or custodian in Southern Shores must be “restrained by a leash, cord, or chain not exceeding ten feet in length [and] held by a person who is physically able to control the animal.” That’s Town Code sec. 4-25(a)(1).
Like the Chicahauk homeowner said on Next Door: “Our street is not a receptacle for pet waste.”
Let’s help him and other neighbors keep Southern Shores safe and clean. We should not have to enlist the police to ensure enforcement of the town ordinances. We should be able to secure cooperation without police involvement.
Like the sign in the Poop Nazi’s yard says: “There is no poop fairy.”
We dog owners have to take the high road when we walk our best friends and take care of their business. That’s part of our job.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 12/15/20