As many important public awareness campaigns did, Cut the Crap, began with a couple of surveys.
About a year ago, Phyllis Fung and some of her Patterson Park and Fells Prospect area neighbors conducted a survey of local tree pits for dog feces and, not surprisingly, found a payload. Next, they queried the dog owners at Patterson Dog Park on their attitudes toward people who don’t pick up after their dogs’ bowel movements.
“They were highly resentful of dog owners who don’t pick up,” Fung says. “We decided to turn some of our frustration and their resentment into action.”
The Fells Prospect Community Association obtained a small grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to launch a public awareness campaign to teach people about the impact of dog waste and how to dispose of it properly.
Cut the Crap Baltimore was born.
The grant, says Fung, goes toward printing educational post cards and buying a small supply of Flush Puppies biodegradable poop bags, which Cut the Crap volunteers give out during neighborhood events.
Specifically, Cut the Crap tries to educate people about dog waste and the law and its impact on the urban and natural environments.
“Letting your dog poop and not picking it up is a $250 violation in the park and a $1,000 violation on the street. Most people don’t know that,” Fung says.
Aside from dog feces’ odor and slipperiness, it can spread e. coli, salmonella, and several kinds of worms, and it also attracts rats.
“Rats can smell feces. If it’s in a bag, they open the bags and pick through the poo looking for edible bits. It’s disgusting. If you put animal waste in your trashcans and they are not secure, you are feeding the rats,” Fung says.
Cut the Crap takes a non-combative stance when it comes to confronting negligent dog owners.
“We ask residents to take a pledge to offer a bag when they see a dog owner not picking up after their pet,” Fung says. “The goal is to change people’s negative behavior.”
The flushable bags, she says, make that easier. The feces can be flushed away immediately. It won’t stink up trashcans or get washed into the Bay with the rain and contribute to algae blooms.
The biodegradable bags, according to Fung, break down within 96 hours in water.
“They are made out of polyvinyl acetate, the same stuff white glue is made of,” she says.
The bags are a little more expensive than traditional plastic poop bags, but two local businesses, Lombard Hardware and Patterson Park Pharmacy, at Cut the Crap’s request, are stocking Flush Puppies and selling them at a reasonable price: $6 for 60 bags.
Cut the Crap has several volunteers including Victor Corbin, Laura Irwin, Bruce Ward, Alana Ridge, and Lisa Doehnert, who will be handing out bags and asking residents to take the pledge at upcoming local events, such as the Butchers Hill Flea Market on Sept. 21 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. and later that day at the Patterson Dog Park from 3-7 p.m.
To join them, or learn more about the fight against feckless feces, visit Cut the Crap, Batimore’s Facebook page.
by Danielle Sweeney