Should Citizens Report Dog Waste Violators?

Local officials weighed in on the topic at Wednesday's meeting


Selectman Barry Greenfield believes the town should pass a new law that allows residents to photo other citizens who do not pick up after their dogs.

Greenfield, who said he almost stepped in a large pile of dog waste recently, proposed that residents should be allowed to use their cell phones and tablets to photograph dog owners who do not pick up after their dogs. The photos could be forwarded to the town for enforcement.

Chief Ron Madigan said any complaints about dog waste violations should be sent to the Health Department, not the police. He said police officers can write a violation for dog owners who do not pick up the dog's waste.

But he said he did not "think that was done very often."

The police department received a complaint from one woman who said an officer "slandered her" when he asked her to pick up after her dog, the chief said. That investigation is on-going, Madigan said.

Town Administrator Thomas Younger questioned whether the proposal, if it became town law, might threaten the physical safety of someone who photographed a violating dog owner.

"If you are taking a photo of someone who is not picking up after their dog, there is the possibility of physical confrontation," Younger said.

Greenfield said the town already accepts photos of potholes.  

Several selectman noted that a pothole would not pose a threat to the photographer. 

Selectman Jill Sullivan also said she was not sure how the town could enforce the violation based on a photo. "How would they know who it is?" she asked.

Greenfield said people in town know each other. 

"It is the six degrees of separation. Somebody would know who it is," he said.

Selectman David Van Dam was also annoyed with dog waste left unattended.

“Some people just let their dogs go in my yard. Others bag it and throw it in my yard. I appreciate the baggers,” he said.

Meredith Freed November 16, 2012 at 02:25 PM
It is a public safety and health issue. People should be held accountable. If there is a confrontation, that person can easily call the police on their phone. The person who refuses to clean up after their dog is the one in the wrong not the person looking to improve the health and safety of his/her community. We've got the technology - let's use it! I like that people will be held accountable.
David Arsenault November 16, 2012 at 02:30 PM
So this is what's being brought up @ town meetings? If someone is annoyed by a dogwalker not picking up, instead of taking pics, simply confront them. There's nothing worse than having a piece of waste being sprayed into your face/mouth while your cutting your grass or a dpw worker is weed wacking a park. No need to hide like a puss and snap photos, speak up in a nice way. As for the Health dpt. and Selectmen's concern, Sorry but why are they taking the time to talk about this @ a town meeting when homes are being filled with dirty street Run off and Raw Sewage??? BARRY GREENFIELD ALMOST STEPPED in dog poo!!! Wow, I wish I had that problem. I was Walking in,Shoveling up, and power washing RAW HUMAN WASTE: TAMPONS, WORMS,TP, FECES, full of viruses and bacteria. After reading this one I am Super Pissed after reading that this was actually talked about. Does a dog poo really take preference over families being subject to having their homes turned into a TOXIC CESSPOOL TWICE A YEAR????????? A hurricane had just recently missed Us because the Jet Stream just happened to catch it in time and this town is already forgetting what happens during storms, I wish it had hit Ma instead of NY!
Restless November 16, 2012 at 02:46 PM
I have threatened to photograph and report leash law offenders at children's parks in Salem. Works a treat. I know someone who when they spot a repeat offender allowing their dog to foul their property, scoop the offending poop, carry it to that persons home and empty it into the mail slot or mail box. Gets the message across pretty effectively and stops reoffending.
Lenny November 16, 2012 at 02:54 PM
I feel badly for you David. I can't understand why the drainage problems in your area can't be fixed. Boston Water and Sewer and the MWRA have world famous water and sewer engineers that have been sent all over the world to give speeches and advice to others. We are an MWRA community and are 16 miles North of The BWSC offices in Roxbury, yet we can't at least get plan on the cuff?
David Arsenault November 16, 2012 at 03:56 PM
I didn't know that about the MWRA engineers. I'm sure this town could but Gino already knows what it is, (I&I,) which is being caused by the old clay pipes. Many towns/citys have already upgraded some of these and some are working on it. The town is also aware of the drainage @ 220 Paradise being obstructed by a tiny drain pipe connecting two 36" drain pipes for appx 1320ft! It's not that any specific entity will not assist Swampscott, the problem lies in the agenda and priorities. The past two meetings proves it. Secret meetings regaurding lawsuits, discussing the topic of passing laws regaurding and enforcing dog poo. How about the wild coyotes, maybe the poo Barry "almost" stepped in was one of theirs LOL. If the same amount of commitment was given to discussing the real problems they would had been fixed 50yrs ago! So now what the future meetings will involve hours of talks of passing poo poo laws and even more man hours chasing down poo poo offenders. I only hope others wake up to what's going on Wed nights!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
julee November 16, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Hooray for you DAvid Arsenault! This town has much bigger problems than dog poop. The flooding that goes on is disgusting and a health hazard, but unless it is going on in the selectman's homes, it's not going to change.
David Arsenault November 16, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Thank's Julee, your right on and this Scooby doo doo artical magnifies the problem this town faces on wed night agendas. Families like Us are faced with 7 months of third world living conditions and because a selectman, 'ALMOST" stepped in doo, the town officials are planning to spend hours chasing puppy poo? That same Selctman told Us," no matter what your getting for your tax dollars everyone must pay". It was said in response to some of Us wanting our taxes held in escrow untill the flooding was addressed. So far we paid the town to use our home as a retention pond 7x and have lost more than a lifetime's share of property taxes to it. So now we are going to pay to figure out how Swampscott is going to deal with Fido's messes. Seriously if Swampscott isn't comparable to Chevy Chase's movie Funny Farm I don't know what could be. I'm kind of glad the poop was brought up and the only reason was because a Selectman almost soiled his shoe raises the question of how much do they really care about what is happening to our homes. According to this the sole of a shoe is taking priority to one's home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lenny November 16, 2012 at 06:02 PM
I am sure you are right David, but I mean that with all the world class engineers within a 16 mile radius of Swampscott, couldn't they be asked to come out and assess the situation, if even just for the hell of it? You know, there may be a solution that might not be as expensive, or maybe even short term until the permanent solution is addressed. The chief engineer at the BWSC for example, John Sullivan, has a license so advanced in Water and Sewer Engineering that I believe for awhile, he was the only one in the country with it. Is there no way the town could ask for his opinion or someone else that maybe qualified at the MWRA? You know, the Boston harbor cleanup, unlike the Big dGig, is still considered a badge of honor in the engineering world, of the most successful harbor cleanups in the world and it all had to do with proper construction and management of sewer systems, and it was accomplished with hardly a rise on water and sewer rates because it was combined with advanced leak detection that saved the city an enormous amount of cost associated with lost water from leaking mains and service connections to homes and businesses.
David Arsenault November 16, 2012 at 08:11 PM
I agree/you, I guess it wasn't clear in my post, I was trying to say in a angry tone that even what your suggesting hasn't been done because no one from the town will send a letter, pick up the phone or even a simple e-mail to ask for help. They simply don't view it as a importance and this poop artical proves it So blatantly!
julee November 16, 2012 at 10:20 PM
David, I couldn't agree with you more. While I completely sympathize with the people in New Jersey whos ehomes are underwater, I also understand because that has happened to me, right here in Swampscott at least 6 times. It did not take a "superstorm" or a hurricane, just heavy rain. The town could have access to all the experts in the world if they wanted to use them, which they don't, because they do not give a "dog poo" about the people that have to live like this. Guess what, our taxes are going up!
David Arsenault November 16, 2012 at 11:58 PM
How is this possible, http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&sqi=2&ved=0CDUQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fsimplysouthshore.com%2Fsouth-shore-real-estate%2Fsouth-shore-property-tax-rate-town-by-town-fiscal-year-2012%2F&ei=ENGmUM-aOai40gHh4ICwAg&usg=AFQjCNGJKsRJDlsw8UvzQRv1efPwskEz7w http://salem.patch.com/articles/how-does-your-community-s-tax-rate-stack-up This town is charging the highest rate for flooding our homes!
NaemhOisin November 17, 2012 at 01:08 AM
wait until the new police station starts flooding
Lenny November 17, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Hello David, I took no offense at all, I understand the frustration, I really do. Out of curiosity, have you contacted the MWRA yourself? We are still an MWRA community. Maybe a complaint to them might help.....it certainly couldn't hurt. I could be wrong, but I don't think there is a town government wall or a filter that sits between citizens and the MWRA. Maybe you and the effected neighbors could petition the MWRA directly and together? Maybe a call to Lori Ehrlich and McGee's office to enlist thier help. You could also contact the Toxic Reduction and Control Department of the MWRA Sewer Division. The Enforcement officer is Tracy McGrath 617-305-5647...the director is Carolyn Fiore 617-305-5633, and the Regional Manager of the Monitoring Staff is Willial Lazaris at 617-305-5647. The last name might be the one to start with firstly. It is a toxic hazard and even if the Town is unwilling or unable to fix it, I find it difficult to believe there are no funds available to the MWRA to support such repair to their system. I know the BWSC grants $3000 to any resident to who repairs a collapsed sewer pipe to their residence, so I am sure MWRA programs exist for towns to probably access a mix of low cost loans and grants to deal with a major health hazard that exists within their sewer network.
Lenny November 17, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Dave, I just checked the MWRA website. Swampscott is a "Water Only" town on the system, which suggests they probably can't help. Maybe the State and/or Federal EPA is where the appeal can be directed.
David Arsenault November 17, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Thank's for the info Lenny, The raw sewer is only one prob. The big one is the street run off that comes in like a tide and just inundates our homes. I did call mass highway, So much that they sent out a crew with a video cam. to check the pipes. They didn't see any tree roots or collapse but there is a small pipe wich should be replaced/larger one. Although it wasn't just my calling that got them out here the town also had to get involved. So that is my point we homeowners can call all we want but like with Swampscott No one cares enough to move on anything. However when another municipality gets involved things happen. I'll take your advice and call them maybe all I can do is report the negligence. Again these are things younger, and other town reps should be doing instead of discussing dog doo.
Lenny November 17, 2012 at 04:18 PM
The MWRA also provides assistance to cities and towns within the water service area for rehabilitation of their locally-owned water distribution systems. About 35% of the 6,100 mile network of community pipes are older unlined pipes. The goal of the program is to maintain water quality by aiding communities in the improvement of the local pipes that water must pass through to reach consumers. Funds are distributed quarterly and communities are required to repay the principal amount of each year's loan over a ten-year period beginning one year after project funding. http://www.mwra.com/04water/html/distpipes.htm Go to the Local Pipeline Assistance Program page for more information.
Lenny November 17, 2012 at 04:29 PM
David, the EPA has a number of ZERO interest loans and grants available. I saw one program that 55% grant / 45% zero interest loan. I won't bug you anymore with these suggestions, but it appears to me that moving outside appealing to the town would be the best course for now. Complaints to the EPA, the Health Dept, etc might be the way to proceed now. I know the flooding is a bigger issue for you and your neighbors, but my suspicion is that the health hazard posed by the raw sewerage is what would be the bigger interest to the state and the Fed agencies.
mary webster November 18, 2012 at 04:49 PM
To the initial article, allowing photographing of such an incident to become a law is just wrong on a number of reasons stated above and more.
Toni Wesselhoeft November 18, 2012 at 06:23 PM
I live behind the Stop&Shop in Vinnin Square. Many of my neighbors and myself use the path to Stop&Shop. Many dog owners use this as a "Dog park". They never use a scooper. Last week two dobermans were running around. Food is being carried from shopping. These people get out of their cars to walk their dogs. Getting there license plate number is easy or at least get a sign saying "THIS IS NOT A DOG PARK' Toni


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something