By TYRELL INGRAM
The people of Canarsie have seen an increase in dog poop within the neighborhood and are concerned that it’s only getting worse.
Though newly appointed Sanitation Commissioner Jessica S. Tisch said that is about to change.
“You see it everywhere,” said Arielys Molinar, a resident of the Glenwood Housing projects in Canarsie. “You’ve got to walk with your head down to make sure that you don’t step on dog poop.”
Andrenia Burgis, a retired deputy chief of sanitation, is a resident of Canarsie who has also experienced more dog poop in her area.
“I was getting out of my car and I was bringing in some groceries and I was walking into my driveway. Before I got into my driveway, right on the corner, at the curb, there was some poop and I nearly fell while going across the poop,” she said. “I got a little bit of it on my shoes and I had to wipe it off on the grass.
“My neighbors all have dogs and at times, I had to get at my neighbors about letting their dog’s poop by my house because I live on the corner of the sidewalk and there’s a fire hydrant and telephone pole,” she said.
According to the 1978 Pooper Scoop law (part of the NYC Health Code) dog owners are supposed to clean up after their dogs. However, when they don’t, who is supposed to hand out those fines?
Well, that would be the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY). Specifically, the enforcement division.
The division has a canine unit that patrols the area for any dog law violations. Those violations against dog owners include having an unleashed dog out in public, not being able control their pet in public, and failing to remove canine waste from sidewalks, streets and other public areas.
“The summons start at $100 and it can go upward of $250-$300 depending on how many you get,” said Dameka Dowdy, a sergeant in the sanitation enforcement agent in DSNY’s Manhattan District. “If you get two more summons, the price goes up.”
If a person doesn’t pay the summons, then it will affect them through the Department of Finance—the same agency that keeps track of unpaid parking tickets.
Not paying the summons can hinder people from buying apartments, getting a city job, and many more things, said Dowdy.
The enforcement officers normally patrol around park areas because those areas have the most dog walkers, according to Dowdy.
However, in the past three years, only five summonses that have been issues in Brooklyn for failure to remove canine waste, according to DSNY.
There were zero summons in 2021.
“I didn’t believe it when I saw it,” said Dowdy. “I got some help [to check on the stats] and we got the same thing.”
Why so few summons? She theorized that the pandemic and the mandated quarantine have played a major role in hindering officers from writing the summons. Another possibility could be that the enforcement officers didn’t catch people and their dogs in the act of violating the law.
“I think that enforcement has so many issues that it isn’t a top priority,” said Burgis, the retired deputy chief of sanitation. “Recycling is a top priority. Keeping the sidewalks clean and keeping dirt off of the street are higher priorities,” she said. “Maybe if you’re a resident around a park, you’ll be conscious about dog poop. But in a regular neighborhood, maybe you won’t be as conscious because of other concerns.”
Chris Jones, a 29-year-old Canarsie resident said that he has never seen anyone enforcing the dog laws.
“I think it’s bad that people don’t pick up after their dogs because it doesn’t look good in any neighborhood. But because of the lack of enforcement, they’re allowed to do it, so it’ll make it worse,” he said.
Some people who work for the Department of Sanitation haven’t even heard of dog laws or of an enforcement department within sanitation.
“We had an enforcement department,” Tyrone Ingram, a sanitation worker from Brooklyn Garage 17 said. “Honestly, no one in my garage has even heard about dog laws and that DSNY is involved with that.”
A quick walk around Canarsie shows how pervasive the dog waste is in the neighborhood.
There was a pile of dog poop on East 93 street and Avenue D, poop located in front of BH Auto Group Inc. on Flatlands Avenue and East 84th Street, and dog poop the size of a mountain on Foster Avenue and East 86th Street. This was all on April 19, 2022.
The worst of them all was located on East 85th street and Farragut Road right next to the front passenger side of a blue Ford Mustang.
Imagine getting picked up from school in the vehicle in your new all-white shoes.
Once you arrive home, you exit from the front passenger side and hear a loud squishing noise. You look down and you see the bottom of your white kicks turned into a dark brown.
Your reaction would be the title cover of Kendrick Lamar’s 2017 album. DAMN.
But flash news: while this story was being reported, Manhattan City Councilman Erik Bottcher held a news conference to announce a “There is No Poop Fairy” campaign to focus on resolving the dog poop problem.
And almost immediately, the newly appointed sanitation commissioner Jessica S. Tisch told ABC 7 Eyewitness News: “Keeping New York City clean is a ruff job, and any New York dog owner who thinks they can ignore their responsibilities is barking up the wrong tree,” she said in a statement.
Residents in Canarsie will wait and see.