San Jose, CA

San Jose: Dog owners not owning up

Vic Aquino

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In a most organic sense, doggy land mines have a high stickiness factor. The fresher the stickier.

When these dumps of dung start showing up on our sidewalks and lawns, it is these dog owners who clearly lack a certain mental capacity when they leave ‘it’ there.

Maybe it’s a lack of respectfulness or mindfulness, but it can’t be a lack of awareness. Picture a dog owner looking at their phone and turning their back to the doody deed.

They know what’s going on. It’s basically callousness.

If you’re a regular on Nextdoor (a virtual neighborhood news feed similar to Facebook), sharing this kind of festering doggy dilemma is common.

Though most no one would fault our best friend for doing their biological thing, these particular dog owners are drawing the ire of many and causing side-eyed views for all of us walking our canines.

The answers to circumventing this breach of etiquette are getting creative. But in all cases, it calls for the time, money, and effort of the homeowners or residents – not the offending dog owner.

Ideas such as signs, fences, ultrasonic devices, repellents, motion-activated sprinklers, and even DNA tracing are all additional expenses that can be incurred – unless, you’re content picking up after others.

There are also the limbo areas in neighborhoods that some dog owners can strategically target which are just out of reach of most residents to cover.

Real answers are supposed to come from the pooper-scooper laws, policies, and ordinances where fines are given (varying on your jurisdiction).

Perhaps better answers may come from potential shaming, especially in suburban neighborhoods where catching and policing the offense can be more difficult.

On Nextdoor, for example, there is ample visual evidence already being shared and watchful neighbors ready to pounce.

Of course, security cameras are already prevalent at many homes, but again, homeowners are the ones needing to take the initiative to capture footage and share the offense somewhere.

Some dog owners are going halfway picking up the poop in a doggy bag but finding a homeowners’ garbage bin OR a pile of yard clippings to drop off the dog deuce.

Is dropping off poop like this still considered a faux pas? Most certainly, yes. And most certainly another social overstep.

If one were to quasi-psychoanalyze the offenders, what kind of profile would we get?

There are cases of dog owners dragging or pulling their dog while they’re trying to discharge - one can only wonder what those owners’ lives are about.

There are owners who actually get caught, but play dumb. They just need a reckoning.

There are owners who pretend to pick it up. Go figure.

Then there are those who do the right thing, which use to be normal.

The ultimate question is, of course, how do we deter these offenses?

In San Jose, there’s dialing 311 or the My San Jose App to report these various lower priority issues, but the onus of the investigative work still falls on everyone but the dog owner.

There are also no clear monetary fines in Santa Clara County or the City of San Jose, as there are in other cities, where fines can range from $100 to $750.

The next obvious question for neighborhoods: is it worth the effort?

The obvious answer: yes.

There are health-related issues that can come into play that can potentially affect people, other pets, yards, the water supply, and so on. So clearly, there are tangible and potentially legal reasons.

Likely, fines should be the best deterrent. It should be made as effective as a vehicle violation and as sticky as fresh scat.

In suburban areas, gathering proof will take a coordinated effort to track the perpetrator, then perhaps a formal submission from the neighborhoods’ association or organization to contact the offender with a warning that ends with a city fine.

At the least, continued and concerted education is needed to tackle the issue or the next step will come where pets are banned from neighborhoods or pet ownership needs further regulations to accommodate the lowest common denominator.

Harsh? - possibly, but not out of the realm of possibility. But who do you think will be screaming most then?

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A 50+ year San Jose-native focusing on social awareness, social good, social impact and the hidden gems and treasures of the area. Freelance journalist & sports contributor to SB Nation, Bay Area News Group & SF 49ers (@VicD_SJ on Twitter).

San Jose, CA
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