Crowd Sourcing: The poop problem

Since I started this gig in January, I’ve fielded a goodly sum of emails about the growing dog poop problem that we seem to be dodging — or not, unlucky — every time we step out our doors. I struggled for a bit to figure out how to approach it, and finally decided to do a little research along with a very unscientific survey. I enlisted some help and we walked the length of Warren from Broadway to the highway, both northside and southside, on a spring Saturday and recorded any evidence of litter, poop, or as we say in the business, residual poop.

The findings were not as dramatic as I expected:
4 actual turds
14 instances of residual poop
121 pieces of garbage
102 cigarette butts

So it’s hard to say what is going on here, other than the feeling that there is dog poop everywhere you look. Turns out we are not the neighborhood with the largest concentration of dog owners in the city, especially when compared to the other island borough (NYCEDC estimates there are 425,000 canines in the city). But when Battery Park City released its special patrol update last fall to CB1, its officers reported that dog violations were the most common summonses by far — above reports of other quality of life issues like trash, graffiti or smoking.

I’ll add that it’s not just all about poop, as noted by R.: “Seems like there is an explosion of dogs (also the name of my next band) in the neighborhood, and apparently these owners do not know the meaning of the phrase Curb Your Dog. They sometimes pick up the solids off the sidewalks, but it seems the liquid byproducts are not deposited in the street, but instead left puddled all over the sidewalks, or against any metal loading dock or vertical object. When I go out, I have to step carefully to avoid the many, many puddles on North Moore, and I assume the same occurs on other blocks. The sidewalks are stained and smelly, the metal surfaces are prone to accelerated rust and also are disgusting.”

A sampling of other comments:

From K: “The real problem is the imposition by pet owners of pet ownership costs onto everyone else. Think about it in terms of ruined shoes or probably more directly buildings that need to wash and scrub their buildings and sidewalks of dog waste constantly. That cost is directly passed to tenants and landlords. No good solution until this is real enforcement by the authorities or just shaming people in public.”

From B: “There is a large segment of the dog owning population that refuses to pick up after their dogs. I feel like it’s getting worse and worse. The sidewalk in front of 234 this morning was smeared with excrement, which means people are stepping in it and bringing it into businesses, schools, etc. Unfortunately I never run into the offenders in the act. They must go out at dawn!”

From C. “I would like to talk about something that bothers me in our beloved neighborhood. IT IS THE AMOUNT OF DOG POOPS ON THE STREETS! This not ok! Maybe this bothers me because when I came to this country many years ago, I had a part-time job as dog walker. I could take some poop pictures and hope that this will help keep our streets cleaner.”

Of course, I am always disappointed that more buildings do not hose off their sidewalks, as they do in more sophisticated towns like Amsterdam. Maybe that’s asking too much?


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  1. It’s definitely worse. I tend to place the most blame on the “professional” dog walkers who walk multiple dogs at a time and don’t see (or care to see) everything that each dog does.

    Then there are the entitled owners that let their dog run around without a leash in the parks that are clearly signed as not allowing dogs.

  2. And to throw more wood on this fire, how about keeping dogs out of our tree pits. Dog urine is highly toxic and kills flowers and trees.

  3. Can this be filed under littering please? I am a responsible dog owner and it indeed drives me nuts when others are not responsible about dog waste. But it also drives me nuts that drivers dump their water bottles filled with urine in the street, or cars that don’t move for alternate side, and we end up with litter filled streets. The common link is BE RESPONSIBLE and considerate of others.

  4. This is an unique issue to those making a decision to own pets. Being inconsiderate by littering, etc… is an issue, but not the same.

    The issue of dog waste has definitely gotten much worse in the past few years. Walk along any street and there will be poop somewhere. It is disgusting and unsanitary. Come out to the parks in the early morning and you will see owners letting their dogs do their business on the lawns. Of course most try to pick up, but how clean does it get on grass and soil. Worse yet, are those who just leave it (or smudges of it) around. I have countless examples. Think about that as you roll around the lawns… I don’t anymore.

    Some stretches of streets are particularly bad because there are less storefronts I gather — the Warren street side of 234, Warren between River Terrace and West Street and Reade between Hudson and Greenwich.

    This is a public health nuisance. There needs to be real enforcement and consequences or, perhaps, impose the cost on all dog owners to make it self-enforcing.

  5. Love the photo! Maybe this can be a new version of “Where in Tribeca?”?

  6. I think it’s all the entitled people in this neighborhood who think that the rules don’t apply to them, or who are too busy on their phones making deals and don’t care.
    It’s poop. It’s dogs not on leashes. It’s so, so many dogs in WHOLE FOODS!!!!!

  7. The worst street by far is North Moore between Greenwich and the West Side Highway on the south side. In addition to sullied sidewalks. every tree is dead because of this. Who is responsible for this stretch of sidewalk?

  8. Same problem here across the bridge in North Jersey. Owners want to have a dog but not the responsibility to clean up after them.

  9. As a dog lover and dog owner, it is baffling to me and maddening that some people do not clean up after their pups. BUT, some of the other complaints here are also baffling. There is ONE dead tree on the south side of N. Moore St (where I have lived for over 40 years), destroyed by the construction and scaffolding, not by pee. I’ll wait for better evidence that the trees in the neighborhood are being killed off by dog urine. And far more disgusting and dangerous as a public health nuisance than dog waste is the ever-worsening litter by humans in the neighborhood of food – all over the place. Chambers St at midnight last night between Greenwich and Hudson was like a horror movie of chicken bones and debris. And, just for another perspective on the proliferation of dog ownership, here you go: OK, bring on the backlash!

  10. “If aliens are watching us through telescopes, they’re going to think the dogs are the leaders of the planet. If you see two life forms, one of them’s making a poop, the other one’s carrying it for him, who would you assume is in charge?”


  11. Give me a break. NYC is dirty, there is trash everywhere. To lay the blame on dogs is ridiculous. This is just anti-dog propaganda. BTW, most the poop you see is from humans not dogs.

  12. Walk along the side walk on Hudson between Reade/Chambers and tell me the problem is dog waste. I’ve stepped over garbage, vomit and human waste. Not to mention the bottles of human urine thrown out of cars parked along Reade. I don’t understand why Tribeca is so much more filthy than the West Village, Upper West and most other areas other than Soho/Broadway.

    Walk along Greenwich and Reade and notice the placard abuse from both the city cars and who sit unmoved in non parking areas for weeks so the streets don’t get cleaned.

    Walk along the front of PS 234 on the weekend and check out the dumped food containers, ice cream containers. Tribeca used to have the blue shirts who would sweep up but that program here seems to have disappeared.

    Yes, I know the argument is move to Montclair.

  13. Is the rationale really that because streets are dirty and many people litter, it is therefore fine for dog owners not to clean up waste? Shouldn’t it be the opposite, littering is unacceptable and dog waste is unacceptable (or dog waste being a subset of littering is unacceptable).

    Human littering is terrible and, hopefully, all neighbors should act neighborly and take care of public spaces collectively. That goes for a subset of neighbors who have made an entirely voluntary choice to own pets that will make waste (or litter) in public spaces. It should be mandatory for those neighbors to clean up that mess and not impose it on anyone else.

  14. Not at all. Dog owners should absolutely pick up and I myself as a dog owner absolutely can not stand to see a pile of waste on the street.
    But the argument that my shoes get dirty based on dogs is silly. And the argument that dogs are solely responsible for our “sullied” sidewalks is equally silly.
    Dog owners should pick up after their dogs. People should not pee in bottles and leave them on the sidewalk. When you are done with your Ciroc bottle you shouldn’t throw it under a tree. When your kids have an ice cream you shouldn’t drop the cone or empty dish on the sidewalk. Homeless shouldn’t poop by the elevator on Chambers Street and if you vomit do so over the garbage can. That about covers everything — I’ll add restaurants who leave open bags of garbage on sidewalk on Friday when they don’t get picked up until Monday morning.

  15. John mentions the bottles of human pee all over the streets, this is a way worse, disgusting issue by ubers and cabs. They have no place to go so they fill a Poland spring bottle and toss on the street.

  16. The dog crap problem is out of control. Dog owners should call out other dog owners on this. No other city i have visited has this disgusting habit.

  17. This is classic broken windows theory. You all do realize this is a ripple effect of a Mayor that has allowed one thing to go, and now another and another etc follows. This isnt a Tribeca problem, this is a NYC problem, along with a million others things.

  18. My impression is that “quality of life” in NYC has really declined in the last few years, coinciding with the non-reign of this current mayor in absentio. The city feels more filthy than at any time in recent memory, for example. Even the streets feel like a life-or-death gamble, with aggressive and flagrant disregard for red lights and human safety. No to mention the incessant noise of “boom cars” and intentionally LOUD motorcycles, constant unnecessary horn-honking, etc. On our street, public drunkenness, fights, urination, vomiting have become just a regular night in the city now.

    So is the “broken windows” theory born out also? Has serious/violent crime also increased? (And can we trust/believe the statistics we hear)?

  19. From today’s NY Post:

    “NYC’s gross subway cars are actually getting worse – and causing delays.”

    Thank you Mr. Bill for not enforcing quality of life offenses.

  20. Just a shout out to the Battery Park employee who was telling folks to keep their dogs off the lawn at Rockefeller Park this morning. But unfortunate what she wasn’t around for – someone wearing a “Poochi” sweatshirt walking dogs on the lawn to pee and poop. You’d think professionals should be able to get it right.