Yesterday in the New York Times, Andy Newman wrote an article about a scourge plaguing not only New York’s sanitation department workers, but also the entire city itself: dog piss. Yes, that’s right. Our streets are streaming with canine urine, and much of it tends to be directed onto the garbage cans and trash bags that line the city streets, awaiting collection.
Newman reports on what is certainly a daily occurrence in my neighborhood, and probably every other throughout the city:
A dog sees a bag of garbage set out for collection. He feels compelled to relieve himself on it.
The dog’s owner, distracted or indifferent, stands idly by.
And along comes a sanitation worker, cursing silently, or not so silently, as he hefts the glistening bag.
And so it goes.
Except, wait! No! It shouldn’t continue to go like this! What kind of arrogant, self-centered, heedless of the rest of humanity dickwad would let their dog pee all over trash cans, especially with the knowledge that someone—garbage man or building superintendent or homeowner—will be handling said trash can eventually? I’ll tell you what kind: a total sociopath. Don’t believe me? Newman spoke with some New York dog-owners and -walkers, and many only proved themselves to be lacking in any kind of empathy or understanding at all.
David Velasquez: “Why not? It’s garbage. I’m all right with it.”
Hector Saez: “The dogs will go where they go.”
Anonymous dog owner: “It’s part of our urban environment.”
Sure, there were a couple dog-owners who made a point of saying that they never let their dogs urinate on garbage cans, but the mere fact that so many people were willing to admit to the Times that they didn’t care at all about what sanitation workers have to deal with is pretty crazy.
Crazy, but, you know, not really surprising. As a dog owner myself—and my dog is far from perfect; she’s noisy and kind of irritating—I know what it’s like to be out on walks on freezing cold nights when you just want your pup to pick a place to pop a squat already so that you can go back home. But you know what? If that spot happens to be on a garbage bag waiting for the next morning’s pick-up or, for that matter, on a newly planted tree in front of a neighbor’s house? Then I redirect my dog. It’s not that hard. It’s the most basic part of being part of a community and society at large. Seriously, New York. We can do better than this.
And while we’re at it? Pick up the poop too. In the words of the great George Costanza, we’re living in a society here. Be better.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen