Urban living is a group effort. We all know and accept that there are certain responsibilities that come with living in a community.
Most of us try on a daily basis to do right by our neighbors. We keep the noise to a minimum, maintain our properties and generally just try to be polite and friendly with each other.
When you decide to bring a dog into the community you assume a little more responsibility. You are now the caretaker of a living, breathing creature. This animal will love you unconditionally, and it deserves to get that love in return.
A part of that love is taking your dog out for some air and exercise. During that exercise period a certain basic need, other than the exercise itself, will be met. Your dog will squat and leave a little something behind. In a city, you are expected, even required to clean up what your dog left behind.
Long ago, on Ward Street, there was a guy who walked his german shepherd each day. One day, the dog decided to do his business on the sidewalk in front of my house. This became an almost daily event. My mother asked this gentleman once or twice to find another place for his dog to do what nature required. He chose to ignore her.
Some weeks later, my father came home and stepped in a fresh deposit of german shepherd leavings. Being who he was, my father handled this very directly. A coal shovel was secured from the cellar, which he used to scoop up what was left on the sidewalk. He then walked down the street with me following him, directly to the tenement where the gentleman lived. He knocked on the third floor door and waited for someone to answer. When the door opened, the shovel's contents were dropped to the floor. As my father walked down the stairs, curses rained down from above. This particular dog never stopped on our sidewalk again.
More recently, I was forced to deal with a young lady in North Salem and her pit bull mix. She had found the sidewalk in front of my Aunt's house to be the preferred spot for her dog to take care of business. She also decided that it was not her job to clean this mess up.
One day last week, I saw her and her dog leave a little something behind right in front of the gate to the yard. I was able to get out quickly enough to attempt a polite resolution to the situation. The woman had no interest in civil conversation or a resolution. She did however, have quite the potty mouth. What a surprise.
Being my father's son I followed her to her residence, but without a shovel. I just wanted her address. Once there, I was confronted by a man who accused me of harassment. When he threatened to call the police, I agreed that he should do just that, even offering to wait for the police to come so we could resolve the situation then and there. He chose not to do so. Another surprise.
Returning home, I called the police and asked that they contact the dog officer. Later in the day, I sent an email directly to animal control. Donald Famico of the Salem Police Department worked with me to resolve this matter. As of now, my Aunt's sidewalk remains free of dog droppings. If the situation occurs again, I will submit a photograph and ask that a court summons be issued.
I spoke with other dog owners this week on this matter. Most agree that there are very few that fail to meet their responsibilities. Many carry extra plastic bags with them when they walk their dogs so they can clean up after those that do not.
If you have someone in your neighborhood who is a part of the 5 percent (or less) of dog owners who choose to be irresponsible slobs, don't stand by and tolerate their rude, crude and selfish behavior. The animal control officer can be reached at 978-744-0171 or email him here.
Here is a link to the applicable Salem City Ordinance. Scroll down to Sec. 8-36.