Government stinks

Should we fine or be fine with poop?

Artwork: Jed Helmers

By Sarah Sidlow

As a professional, no-nonsense journalist, I’m always looking for a good opportunity to write about pressing issues in our community.

Like poop.

That’s what the city of Oakwood was talking about in order to pass an amendment to the neighborhood’s nuisance ordinance regarding pet owners. The message: pick up, or pay up.

The requirement that pet owners pick up after their animals was already local law, it seems, but the wording was vague and there was no mention of a monetary penalty for noncompliance. Part of the amendment process is to clarify some of that important language: distinguishing droppings from furbabies, which will be considered a “public nuisance,” rather than scat from wild animals, whose waste would fall under the jurisdiction of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. (Lucky them.)

Why is that important? Because public nuisances are finable offenses.

Most communities in Montgomery and Greene counties already have some type of ordinance that requires residents to pick up after their dogs. The penalties range from $10-$15 in Dayton all the way to $150 in Fairborn, Beavercreek, Huber Heights, and Kettering.

In Oakwood, the amendment implemented a $25 fine and a minor misdemeanor for the first offense, followed by $50 for each subsequent act of non-scooping negligence.

But it turns out there may be ambiguity in other local ordinances, as well. According to Dayton Daily News, many cities include picking up after your dog as a law, but don’t necessarily assign a fine.

The city of Huber Heights’ ordinance, for example, states, “No person shall keep or harbor any animal so as to create noxious, or offensive odors or unsanitary conditions which are a menace to the health, comfort, or safety of the public,” but does not specifically mention that the owner is responsible for the removal of their pet’s waste. (Is that a loophole I smell?)

Yet among all this discussion of Issue No. 2, some are left wondering whether this updated ordinance, and the fines that come with it, really deserve a place in the books at all. For many, picking up after their pets is an act of basic common courtesy. Do we really need to get the government involved in every stinkin’ aspect of our daily lives? In fact, some argue, it’s downright rude for city officials to assume that without a monetary consequence, Oakwood pet owners would let their city descend into such unsanitary conditions.

Then there’s the issue of public property. If a person’s tax dollars denote partial ownership of public land, then shouldn’t the puppy be able to poop where he pleases?

Debate Question of the Week: Should residents who don’t pick up dog poop be fined?

Something smells

Money talks, even on dog walks

By Ben Tomkins

Understand something about me. I’m your friend. As a matter of fact, we go way back. Remember how we first met on the bus on the way to second grade and we’ve been tight ever since? Then there was the time I helped you move out when your girlfriend dumped you, and you crashed on my couch for a week. I am the godparent of your first child, and I dropped everything when your mother got cancer and flew out to Milwaukee to be there for you and your family as she passed.

Remember? Remember how I love you? OK, great. Now understand that if you are coming to me and saying you are staring over your neighbors’ back fences, looking for dog poo in the wee hours of the morning, and want to make it a law that if they don’t clean it up, Big Brother is going to banish them from the neighborhood like we’re living in Kim Jong Dog Poo Un’s North Korea, we are done. This friendship is over, and I’m calling in local authorities to take you away.

We live in two worlds. There is the legal world where people can sign away their house, without intending to if the circumstances are right; and if we get tired of the Supreme Court we can go into the Constitution and start tinkering. However, we also live in the world of the unspoken social contract. This is the world of peace on Earth and good will towards men (and women etc.), where we don’t have to help old ladies up icy stairs, but we do it anyway because human beings don’t need to write some things down to know they should do them. One of those worlds tolerates people, sitting upstairs in the servant loft with a telescope and a stopwatch, intently observing the amount of steam emanating from the neighbor’s springer spaniel piles to ensure they are removed before drying onto the grass; the other is tolerable to live in.

This behavior cannot be enabled in modern society. It’s creepy stuff, and the citizens of Oakwood need to understand that the God-fearing people of this world are not going to indulge their nonsense just because they’re rich. I understand that Oakwood has a long history of looking for anomalous, non-white arrivals in the neighborhood, but this seems to indicate that it’s moved beyond sheer racism and has become a diagnosable, delusional pathology.

Residents of Oakwood, please realize that I live in Denver, Colorado, and I’m hearing about what comes out of your dogs. That is out of line. You are the crazy person who forces good people to sit through city council meetings while you smear the room with your irrational feces obsession. You are wasting the time of lawmakers who need to spend their time helping the homeless. Because you donate to their campaigns, you think your petty neuroses are entitled to legal weight. They aren’t. It’s like being a donor to the Dayton Philharmonic—if you love the symphony, give your money. DPO will invite you to its gala and give you great seats. If you give enough, you may even be asked to sit on the board of directors. However, you have to accept that no matter how much cash you made turning big rocks into little rocks, at no time will that cash buy you the right to start tinkering with the programming.

Now if everyone on the board decides the programming is crap, and ticket sales are plummeting, and the city is considering demolishing your concert hall to make way for a more tolerable cultural institution, maybe there’s a problem that needs to be addressed from a managerial standpoint. However, if you’re annoyed because you had to sit through a four-minute piece of new music, that wasn’t what you signed up for when you donated your cash, before you get Beethoven heroin mainlined into your aorta, you don’t get to start rattling sabers.

The same is true of what goes on behind your neighbor’s 12-foot privacy fence. If you can point to what’s going on back there and make a tangible claim about the minions of Seth or Seti descending on the dung scarabs north of your property line preparing to bring about the apocalypse, maybe it’s time for a few tickets from the health inspector. Other than that, it’s a free country. Just so you know, there’s a reason why they were planning only a 6-foot fence and then seemingly out of the blue decided to double that number.

A crappy day

Dog poop ruins lives, must be stopped

By Don Hurst

Should pet owners be fined for not cleaning up after their precious fur babies? Absolutely.

I could go on about the way dog poop smells up the neighborhood and what eyesores those brown lumps are. I could talk about the sanitation problems of other dogs eating that poop (it’s a great way to pass intestinal worms from mongrel to mongrel). All of these arguments would be very logical. But none of them really gets close to the true, insidious nature of these malodorous land mines.

Dog poop ruins lives, leaving behind nothing but the putrid stench of regret and what might have been.

I recall a day five years ago when I had an interview for a job that would alter my destiny. I woke up with a nasty head cold, but I was not deterred. After popping some DayQuil, I was ready. Sure, phlegm congested my nasal cavities, my voice was a little hoarse, but I looked very professional in my new suit and my shiny new businessman shoes. I strutted to that interview. I was a captain in control of his own ship, and that ship was called Destiny.

I met the receptionist in the fancy lobby. I flashed her my most confident smile, the kind of smile that only comes from brushing your teeth with an electric buffer, downing shots of Listerine, and flossing at least three times. Full dazzle. All I received in return was a grimace.

That was fine, for I stood on a solid foundation of courage and swagger.

She led me to my future boss. His suit was nicer. His shoes were shinier. His capped white teeth out-dazzled mine.

We shook hands. Firm, but not too firm, just the right amount of control. We were two men with the quiet assurance that we could take on the world and win.

His smile faltered a bit. Probably because he was thinking about how to let down the other candidates without hurting their feelings.

He asked questions about my professional background and qualifications. Easy answers.

Then the conversation veered into strange territory. What were my views on hygiene? I told the same lies I tell my dentist about flossing at least twice a day. What were my thoughts on offensive odors in the workplace? What were my beliefs about soiling office furniture?

You readers have the benefit of knowing what this article is ultimately about. Five years ago, I, with a congested nose and a faltering sense of smell, did not know.

Before I realized what was happening, he concluded the interview. He thanked me for my time, but confessed that they were going in a different direction and I would not be a good fit. That was new. Usually it’s all smiles and “we’ll be in touch” before the impersonal rejection email a week later.

As I shuffled out of the office in shock, I observed nasty footprints on the floor. I consoled myself that I dodged a bullet by not working in such a filthy place.

I truly did not understand what happened. I possessed the perfect qualifications. I came highly recommended by others in the same company.

Then I saw it—the dog poop that caked the underside of my shiny, business-guy shoe. In fact, the shine of the shoe made the poop pop out even more. I had stepped in dog crap. Then I had tracked all the fecal matter through my potential employer’s office.

I am not saying 100 percent I had that job in the bag, but poop on my shoe didn’t help.

At times I think about how different my life would have been if my foot had evaded that stray fur-baby log. It’s not like I’m unemployed. I do have a job. Yes, it pays half of what that job would have paid, but I get by, you know.

At a recent party, I met the guy who has that cushy job now. Small world, right? He was a very nice man. Cordial. Witty. Donates his time to charity. I want to kill him.

He showed me pictures of his trip to Hawaii with his wife. That should have been my trip. Where did I take my wife on vacation this year? Louisville, Kentucky. The bourbon is quite nice, but you know what tastes better than bourbon? Hawaii.

Then he showed me pictures of his kid’s horse. His kid has a f–king horse. What does my kid have? My kid has a blind and deaf Corgi that wears a diaper because he has bladder issues.

This all happened because somebody didn’t want clean up after the mutt. These are the natural consequences of laziness and selfishness. As a society we can do better. We must do better.

Don’t pick up your dog’s poop for me. It’s too late for me. Do it for all the other go-getters out there with their lives unfolding before them. Don’t crush their dreams because you can’t be bothered to bend over and pick up that poop.

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Ben Tomkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, Colorado. He hates stupidity and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of an issue. Reach Ben Tomkins at

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