2017-12-06 / Features

Civic Blasts Dog Owners: ‘Don’t Dump On Us’


(L. to r.): Alexandra Tselepi, Marge Fasano, Jimmy Natale, Pat Wilson, John Zuk, Steve Morena (kneeling), Tony Benetatos, and George L. Stamatiades. (L. to r.): Alexandra Tselepi, Marge Fasano, Jimmy Natale, Pat Wilson, John Zuk, Steve Morena (kneeling), Tony Benetatos, and George L. Stamatiades. Members of the Dutch Kills Civic Association are sending a message to people that fail to clean up after their pets.

“We are tired of being dumped on,” group President George Stamatiades said. “We’re tired of cleaning up after dog owners who ignore the law.”

Stamatiades said people blatantly flout a New York City law that requires them to pick up after their dogs. “Pet owners and dog walkers thumb their noses at the law and at our neighborhood, and we’re really tired of it.”

Pet owners are responsible under the city’s “Pooper Scooper” law to pick up pet waste from streets, sidewalks and other areas. Failure to do so can result in a $250 fine.

The law, the first of its kind in the U.S., was enacted in 1978 under the Koch administration. Critics have argued for nearly 40 years that the Department of Sanitation would take on the brunt of criticism for failure to enforce the law.

The law is difficult to enforce, a Department of Sanitation (DOS) spokesperson said.

Summonses can only be issued to the dog owner or dog walker if DOS agents or inspectors witness the act, turning enforcement into a game of “catch me if you can.”

But regardless of the situation, landlords and homeowners remain responsible to clean up the mess pet owners leave behind, or face a fine for failure to maintain their property.

Statistics revealed in a recently published report show that DOS issued a total of 159 violations of the Pooper Scooper law citywide in 2017, compared with 99 in 2016. The 311 Hotline processed 2,472 complaints in 2016, compared with 2,442 in 2015, according to the report.

A Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesperson confirmed that the agency recently removed more than 1,200 “Pooper Scooper Law” signs from city streets. The signs that warned dog walkers to adhere to the law were removed because they were, “old, faded, rusted and they had become an eyesore,” a DOT spokesperson said. It is unclear when, or if, the signs would be replaced.

Property owners have one remedy that has been somewhat successful in curbing bad habits of dog walkers, the DOS spokesperson said. Property owners can call 311 and request that DOS monitor a location, giving an approximate time frame for the offenses.

DOS agents or inspectors monitor the location and summons the offender if he or she does not clean up after their dog.

“Most people don’t repeat an offense that costs them a significant fine,” the spokesperson said. A majority of the complaints are resolved within five to seven business days.

Meanwhile, property owners in Dutch Kills will continue to hammer wooden signs into the ground around street trees in the neighborhood, hoping dog walkers will comply with the law.

“The signs convey the group’s message in a friendly, matter-of-fact way,” Stamatiades said. “We’re hoping dog owners will wake up and do the right thing.”

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