Mayor Bill de Blasio was doing his weekly call-in show with Brian Lehrer on WNYC when a caller asked him about a particularly messy topic — no, not his hush-hush fundraisers, it’s dog poop!
The caller wanted to know why the city doesn’t enforce the pooper scooper laws more aggressively, adding that “I don’t even know why dogs need to poop in the street. If you have a dog, perhaps maybe, you know, people should educate people, have peoples dogs poop in their own home, train them to poop in the newspaper – no I’m serious, in their homes, like why on public streets?”
Brian Lehrer chimed in, referencing an article first written about in West Side Rag about the city’s preference that people “not just dump the scooped poop in a corner waste basket but bring it home.”
The mayor said he hadn’t heard about the bring-the-poop-home initiative, but he did say that he’s looking to boost enforcement.
Mayor: I have honestly not heard that Brian. I do think this is an issue that a lot of everyday people in this city care about and I’ve asked my colleagues in the administration to come up with a new plan. Mayor Koch famously, you know took a very aggressive approach to this and I think he was right. There is the question of money and you know how we pay for the enforcement and the number of agents we need. But I think Q is raising a good point. You know, it might be the kind of thing that we could fund because unfortunately there are so many people violating the law right now that there will be a number of violations given and would bring in some revenue. We never want to do these things for the sake of revenue. But it is getting bad, it has been bad out there for a while and I do think more enforcement is called for. So I’ve asked my team to put together an enforcement plan and then figure out you know how we are going to pay for it in light of the kind of budget challenges we are facing right now.
Lehrer: I knew I remembered this from somewhere, I didn’t think I made it up. From our own website Gothamist, doos, with two Os, Doos and Don’ts, City Recommends Carrying Dog Poop Home to Flush Down Toilet. Is this familiar to you?
Mayor: Not at all. I have not heard that one before.
Later, Lehrer brought up the issue again, noting that the article was first published in the Rag.
Lehrer: And by the way, just for the record, now maybe you’ll have – a how much to enforce this decision to make now that this has gone public, but in Gothamist via the original publication in the West Side Rag letter from the Sanitation Department to a West Side resident, “litter baskets are intended for pedestrian litter, while canine waste maybe placed in litter – maybe placed in litter baskets that is not their primary purpose. Dog walkers should not be placing their canine waste on or in other resident’s receptacles. New York State public health law requires that each person that owns or controls a dog must remove any feces left by that dog on any sidewalk, etcetera, and dispose of it in a legal manner ultimately by carrying it away for disposal in a toilet or a place out with their own trash.” So there you go.
Mayor: You are very focused on this issue Brian. This is – obviously you have become an expert. It’s a – I did not know that. I mean, look, the thing is – we have to – we have to, I’m going to speak for I think a lot of New Yorkers, the worst place for it is on the sidewalk. So even though I do get the theory and I hope that people follow that guidance, in the end, the one thing I don’t want let them do is have their dog do their business on the sidewalk and leave it there for everyone else to step in. Like that’s the problem and so that’s why we need some kind of new enforcement that can make a real difference but you have educated I think a lot of us today on the nuances of the – the appropriate approach.
So there you have it — the mayor agrees that it would be nice if you took the poop home, though mostly he just wants you not to leave it on the sidewalk.
Also, the mayor is clearly tired of talking about dog poop.