By David Swedelson, Senior Partner, SwedelsonGottlieb
There is an old saying that the three big “issues” at community associations are people, pets and parking. Some may disagree, but the fact is that pets are often an issue. And when it comes to pets, and specifically dogs, dog poop or waste is often at the top of the list. We often get calls or e-mails from managers or board members asking our advice on how to deal with residents who fail to pick up after their dogs or complaints regarding same. This is not something they teach in law school.
Recently, a disgruntled owner at one association we represent was so unhappy about the dog poop allegedly being left on the common area grass in front of her condominium unit that she took the poop and wiped it all over an association monument sign (we have no idea what she used as the scraping implement; we are hoping it wasn’t her hands).
I was therefore not surprised to read a recent Wall Street Journal article that addressed the dog waste issue and, more specifically, a growing business: dog waste removers. That’s right, some people (and associations) are hiring companies that come out and pick up the poop for those owners who don’t want to do it themselves. They go by names such as The Pooper Scoopers, Dr. Scoopy Poo, Dog Entremanure, Yucko’s, Grand Poobah, Call of Doodie, and Mine Sweepers Pet Waste Removal.
I have to admit that I’m a bit familiar with the service. I have three dogs, and we pick up their waste on our own. I live in a planned development and regularly walk my dogs. I noticed that some residents were not picking up after their dogs. Disgusting. I then saw that my association had hired a dog waste remover. I can’t believe that my assessment dollars are going towards picking up dog waste that other residents are too lazy to pick up themselves. But that is both a pet and a people issue.
According to the Wall Street Journal article, part of the reason that we are seeing more dog poop may be the significant increase in the number of dogs in the United States. Since 1960, the US pet population has more than tripled to a record 2010 estimate of 78.2 million (and this is more than the number of pigs, sheep and horses in the U.S. combined). “At three quarters of a pound per day on average, waste production per dog comes to 274 pounds a year-or 10.9 million tons dropped on the a landscape annually. By some estimates, about half is cleaned up. The rest is opportunity.”
Have a dog waste/poop issue at your Association? Comments or questions? You can contact David Swedelson via email: firstname.lastname@example.org