Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Yes, Citizens of Rockport, #@$% actually does happen

Ever wonder what goes on at those quaint, New England, small-town town meetings? Budget discussion? Road repairs? Whether to add a traffic light at the intersection of Park and Main? Not exactly. On Monday night, the town of Rockport, Maine devoted considerable time to a heated discussion about... *drumroll please*... dog poop.

as reports:
"The matter of dog waste surfaced as public works crews battled over the winter to dispose of it. Beveridge has suggested the town establish a "carry-in, carry-out" policy. On May 27, Beveridge informed Town Manager Robert Peabody in a descriptive memo titled "Sticky Issue" that it would make more sense to take the burden of dog feces removal off the taxpayer and put it where it belongs, 'on the dog owner.'"

Now, let me just say that I am ALL about responsible dog ownership. I always clean up after my dogs, I keep them leashed when in public (yes, even at the beach, where other not-so-civic-minded individuals ignore the sign and let their dogs run loose), and I don't turn them out of doors to roam the neighborhood like all the OTHER folks on my cul-de-sac. I've even picked up after other people's dogs when they've left evidence of their passing along the Rockland boardwalk. So I'm in no way suggesting that dog owners should abdicate all responsibility for things that fall off of or out of their dogs. And I'm delighted that a municipality has seen fit (until now, anyway) to provide a receptacle for the sole purpose of encouraging folks to do the right thing by cleaning up after their pets.


If the town removes the waste receptacles, what exactly do they think the average, responsible dog owner is going to do? They're going to do one of two things:

1) bag the waste and throw it in the nearest trash receptacle. Makes sense to me. No mess on the ground to be stepped in, it's out of sight, out of mind. But according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, dog waste "should be transported, via a department-licensed category on a nonhazardous waste transporter to a special waste disposal facility, such as Waste Management in Norridgewock." This could be accomplished if the waste remains in its own designated receptacle, but not if it becomes intermingled with all the other trash collected in municipal cans;

2) leave it where it is. I'd like to think that the folks who normally scoop wouldn't opt for this one, but if they are suddenly faced with no place to put the waste once it's scooped, I fear it's the option most will take.

The town thinks it will solve that dilemma by implementing a "carry in, carry out" policy, such as the state parks have for picnickers. Really? Well, it was actually the dog who carried it in, but I'm pretty sure HE isn't going to carry it back out. How exactly is that supposed to work? Your dog leaves his calling card. You take out your baggy and pick it up and... uh oh. You've still got to run to the bank and drop off that envelope at the post office, and you really should pick up some fresh vegetables at the market to go with the pork chops tonight... Gee, I guess you'll just have to carry your little bag o'joy with you. I mean, THAT'LL be a big hit with the other patrons, eh?

Yeah, probably not. Soooooooooo, you pick it up and... put it in your car? Your locked, sealed, really WARM car? Um, no. Just... no. How's that "carry in, carry out" policy working for ya, Rockport?

If the town doesn't want to deal with hauling the waste around in big buckets and making special arrangements to dispose of it, how about installing some industrial-size doggy dooley systems in the areas that currently have waste containers? Then the Public Works department would just need to check on the systems and add enzymes periodically, rather than transporting big ole buckets-o-crap.

What's that? That would cost money? You don't think the taxpayers should have to pay for those?

Well, guess what: I pay taxes. And you know what I hate paying for? Other people's kids to go to school. No, seriously. I don't have kids. I don't want kids. I don't want to pay for OTHER people's kids. But that's what I'm doing every year when I pay my property taxes, and I don't hear anyone suggesting that we should "take the burden of education off the taxpayer and put it where it belongs, 'on the child owner.'" We all pay for things with our taxes that we would prefer not to spend money on, because it's in the best interests of the public.

Isn't it also in the best interests of the public to make it possible for pet owners to continue to act responsibly?

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