Dog Poop Returns

When I was a student in Vienna, I was often annoyed with the massive amount of dog excrement littering the streets. It’s really a stinking mess. Vienna’s famously feared old ladies, who seemed to own the majority of the city’s dogs and represented a sizable political lobby, never dreamed of cleaning up after their beloved little pets. Dogs are allowed in parks, and since there are few landscaped areas along the old streets and sidewalks, their leftovers are usually deposited on the sidewalk or between cars parked along the streets. Being somewhat radical and angry young men, we had all sorts of wild ideas about how to sanitize the problem — most of which are unsuitable for reciting here.

One idea we would never have dreamed of in these days: To take samples of the feces and match the DNA against a database, then fine the dog owner. The idea has recently been circulating in Europe, and I got to write a short blurb about it for the American magazine, Popular Science. (It’s here: A Pooper Scooper Law with Bite).

In L.A.’s wealthy neighborhoods, such problems seem rather strange. Not only are there plenty of landscaped areas, but the folks here conveniently have (mostly) Latino gardeners who get stuck with the unpleasant task of cleaning up. (In all fairness, some dog owners are actually responsible enough to do it themselves).

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