Pet Owner Responds to City’s “Dog Poop” Letter



It happens to everybody.

Getting spam mail from your city, I mean, although what you were thinking of is also true.

In Salem, Oregon, a letter was sent out to pet owners asking them to clean up after their pets.┬áThis pet owner’s response letter is brilliant.

Ms. Topp,

My first reaction to your “Dear Salem Pet Owner” was to be insulted.

First of all, why am I, as a responsible, law-abiding dog owner, being targeted and discriminated against when I am the MOST LIKELY to pick up after my dog? And why is Polk County releasing my dog licensing information to anyone?

Wrong audience, folks. If this truly is a concern, you should be addressing people who don’t bother to license, care for, or sometimes even feed and shelter their pets. They probably don’t pick up the poop either.

Secondly, you didn’t state where poop must picked up. Are you talking public areas? Or will there also be trespassing on and inspections of private property to ensure that dog poop is banished?

Of course, once the poop is picked up and put in the trash, where does the trash go? Into a landfill, where it will combine with other bacteria and leach into our ground water, streams and rivers. Hmm.

And just to be sure my reaction wasn’t too over the top, I shared your letter and my response to several other people. Ay-yi-yi! They thought of things I didn’t.

After awhile, though, I began to see the humor in this.

For instance, are other “warm-blooded animals” being sent letters?

I chatted with the squirrels, who are open to negotiations designating certain areas as poop free–IF you can guarantee all the cats that people dump will not hunt them while they are using these DPAs (designated poop areas).

Oh, and those cats? Not only do they roam the neighborhoods pooping wherever, and procreating noisily to the tune of several thousand per unspayed female cat, they kill birds and squirrels and whatever else they can so they don’t starve. When I worked at the humane society, stray and feral cats were much more of a problem than dog poop.

But back to the poop issue. I tried to talk to the neighborhood birds, but they weren’t very cooperative, especially the crows. They thought your missive was hilarious, and will be making direct deposits over City Hall.

And that brings up chickens, which are now allowed inside the city limits. Of course, chickens aren’t in the same class as dogs. Dogs will get as far away from their sleeping area as possible to do their “bathroom business” or hold it until they can get to a DPA. Chickens poop wherever and don’t care–nor do they allow their names to be listed with government agencies, so perhaps they are excused from this “initiative.”

However, that also calls attention to the geese and other birds who frequent some of the downtown buildings and property, or those stopping by for a snack and a bathroom break as they migrate to other places. Has anyone discussed their unsanitary bathroom habits with them? But wait, they might not even poop on the ground! They might make their deposits directly into the water while they are swimming or bathing.

Neither does this address the possums, raccoons, rats, mice and other small animals–who not only leave their poop lying around, they have the audacity to die in the streets and leave their carcasses to further pollute streams and rivers.

In the meantime, drunks continue to pee on buildings or drop their drawers wherever they feel the urge–and did you check out homeless people who don’t have a bathroom?

What about businesses and industries that continue to dump raw sewage into the river? Or even the sewage plant when things go awry?

One final note of some concern. My female furbaby (spayed, by the way, as are all the animals in my household) was so traumatized by the assumption she would lower herself to leave her bathroom business in public, that she will need therapy. However, since you have the money to waste on mailing a full-color pompous missive on heavy stock paper, I will be sending you the bills for her therapy sessions. I expect to be reimbursed promptly.

So what is the real issue? If it’s that dog poop left in public areas is disgusting and unsanitary–and I really don’t like stepping in it–just say so. But don’t spend thousands of dollars trying to couch this as you’re my buddy and you have “Important Knowledge” that no one else knows. Because you really missed the mark with this letter.

I would suggest a better use of precious tax dollars would be to focus on an actual issue–like jobs. Perhaps all the unemployed people could collect a bounty on every bag of poop they bring in. An ad on Craig’s list wouldn’t cost anything. Paying a poop bounty would have cost less than the letter and mailing you did, let alone whatever other costs are associated with this “initiative.”


And, no, I don’t want to be beseiged by “reasons” trying to justify this letter and initiative. I’m under deadlines and don’t have time for being harassed about things I’m already doing.

I would suggest you get out and walk the streets. Pick up some of that dog poop you’re so concerned about and talk to people. Find out what their challenges are and tailor your services to meet those needs. Live up to your slogan, “City of Salem at your service.”


Salem Pet Owner

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