In the annals of acronyms, we’ve got to hand it to San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang’s new initiative to get local dog owners to clean up their pets’ waste. It’s called the Pet Owner Outreach Program, better known by its acronym POOP.
After dropping that clever name, Sup. Tang’s office is also partnering with San Francisco Animal Care and Control (SFACC) and the San Francisco SPCA to give free dog waste bags and a bag dispenser to every new dog adopter who selects their pet through those programs.
“I am sure that many of us have stepped into dog waste accidentally and found ourselves frustrated by the poopetrators,” Supervisor Tang said in a release. “Even with existing laws on the books, I still hear complaints from residents that pet guardians are not being held responsible and the law is not being enforced.”
The law — and yes, a San Francisco dog poop law does exist — is called the Scoop the Poop Act of 1978 and was introduced by none other than the late Harvey Milk. In some completely amazing retro 1970s news clips from KQED, we see Milk’s Duboce Park press conference at which he introduced the ordinance. But the clips may be more notable for their mind-blowing looks at the Duboce Triangle background of yesteryear.
(There were also some regrettable attitudes in yesteryear. In one portion of the clip, a constituent can be heard shouting, “Mr. Milk, I hate you for that gay stuff!”)
Milk’s law remains on the books, but the fine has been increased to $320. The ordinance is rarely, it ever, enforced.
“Pet waste is a health concern, both for humans and our canine friends. Most guardians do the right thing and clean up but it only takes a few irresponsible owners to create a problem,” SF SPCA President Jennifer Scarlett, said in a release. “We’re campaigning to remind all San Franciscans of the importance of cleaning up after their pets.”
The campaign also encourages doggie owners to use the hashtag #notapoopetrator, and for dog owners to “post a photo of themselves picking up their dog waste to their social media accounts.” Honestly, that is the last dog picture I would ever post to social media.
More importantly, pet owners and pedestrians alike should police one another and remind poop-leaving owners to do their duty and clean up the waste. In a city with more than 200,000 dogs, maybe we could use some “stool pigeons.”