Joe Pisani (opinion): Neighbors not scooping dog poop puts him down in the dumps

Illustration of the emotions of dogs - nervous, happy and sad. T 

Illustration of the emotions of dogs - nervous, happy and sad. T 

Rich Pope/KRT

My neighbors are a patriotic bunch, who heartily believe in the First Amendment, although I’m not so sure about the Second.

When election time rolls around, the streets are colorfully decorated with political signs championing candidates like Joe Biden, although maybe not Donald Trump.

I don’t go in for political promotions, which means to say I’m more inclined to put up signs that proclaim, “Proud (and Poor) Parent of Costly College Graduate Who Almost Made Honor Roll.”

However, after decades of silence, I finally decided to exercise my constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of expression and put a sign on my lawn, which I created with magic markers and construction paper, that said: “PICK UP AFTER YOUR  #*&@%!* DOGS!”

I planted the sign right near the mailbox, where some dog parent, who never watched Mister Rogers as a kid, let his dog do a monstrously large dump, which the mailwoman then drove over with her truck.

I realize that dog parents, of which I’m one, don’t want to infringe on the canine right to do their business wherever and whenever they please. I get that. And I love my dog, so I’d never think of restraining her. However, my mailbox is a sacred place, where I frequently walk, and I hate to have to dodge you-know-what.

This is probably a distasteful topic for a newspaper with taste, but I’ve often believed rampant canine defecation is a public health epidemic in our times, and I’m not alone, so we better haul Dr. Fauci out of retirement immediately if not sooner to develop a program to deal with it.

You think I’m joking? No sooner had the misdeed been done than another neighbor sent around a story from the respected British newspaper The Guardian, detailing the dog poop crisis in New York City, which seems to be suffering a lot of crises lately.

It made me wonder why The Guardian reporter wasn’t investigating the dog poop crisis in London, but that’s a story for another day.

The headline proclaimed, “Fecal bacteria ‘rampant’ on New York sidewalks, researchers find.” A team from Marymount Manhattan College studied the sidewalks in the Upper East Side and concluded: Take off your shoes before going inside because you’re tracking bacteria all over the carpet. (My wife makes me do that even though we don’t live on the Upper East Side.)

The title of the study is enough to make you shiver: Fecal indicator bacteria on indoor floors linked to exterior sidewalk contamination in New York City.” Do you think Connecticut is immune? Well, we’re not.

New York City dog ownership “exploded during the COVID pandemic,” and the city is cracking down on people who don’t bag the poop by slapping them with a $250 fine.

Some sidewalks had up to 31,000 fecal bacteria in areas no larger than a bottle. The study said, “Overall, our evidence indicates ubiquity of FIB (fecal indicator bacteria) on sidewalks, a translocation pathway via shoe soles and accumulation on indoor floor surfaces, particularly carpeted areas.” In plain English, that means the dog poop bacteria rate is higher than the rate of inflation and it’s on your rug.

I got really worked up over this scientific research because I believe we Americans have to be responsible when we exercise our many freedoms, including the freedom guaranteed under some amendment — probably the 14th — that says we can walk our dogs on public thoroughfares, except interstate highways.

After reading the article, I ratcheted up my campaign and sent everyone an email that said, “Let’s pick up after our dogs! Theres poop all over our streets, and the law is pretty explicit ‘Ordinance Regarding Dog Defecation: It shall be unlawful for any person to allow or permit any dog to defecate upon any sidewalk, public street, median divider within public streets, grass or paved strips between streets and sidewalks, public parks and other public property, unless such person shall remove all feces so deposited by such animal immediately before leaving the area of the defecation.’ ” Our esteemed legislators earned their salaries the day they drafted that law.

One fellow wrote back and said a miscreant let Bowser do his business in their driveway. A woman complained that someone’s dog, or dogs, regularly use her front lawn as a public restroom.

I realize we’ve got more serious problems to address, including the border crisis, the Ohio toxic waste spill, and figuring out how we can postpone presidential campaigning as long as possible. But this is an issue that should inspire every politician, regardless of their affiliation, to work across the aisle and get their hands — and shoes — dirty.

My crusade is just beginning. I bought an outdoor security camera, animal repellent pellets, and a solar-powered, ultrasonic device that goes off when a dog approaches. I also plan to buy a new pair of slippers — or two — and leave free poop bags near the mailbox for the greater good of humanity and public health. Let’s all join together to keep the sidewalks and streets of Connecticut clean of you-know-what.

Former Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time Editor Joe Pisani can be reached at