Lived here ~25 years, bought the house March 2000. Soon afterward met a
neighbor who shares a fence with me. We live on cross streets, and my
back fence is his left-side fence, partly. My entire back fence is the
back portion of his left fence.
He's had dogs ever since I've owned the house (i.e. at least 7 years).
If one of his dogs dies, he gets another. We introduced ourselves and in
an effort to seem quite neighborly he offered to lend me tools any time
I need them, should I need them. I've never taken him up on that... I
have a lot of tools and when I don't have some I need but not enough to
buy, I can generally get them at the very local tool lending library
(Berkeley, CA). Under the current circumstances, I would never dream of
asking to borrow a tool:
His dogs' barking has sometimes bothered me a lot but that's not the
subject of this post. The dogs crap a ton just over my back fence, which
is on the left side of the garage my neighbor built a few years ago. It
seems like he never cleans it up. AFAIK, he's NEVER cleaned any of it
up. If I'm near that back fence, I can smell the crap. In the summer
(i.e. now), the smell is so bad I can smell it most times any time I go
in the back yard. Glancing over the fence (wood fence) a couple of days
ago I saw (didn't count) must have been over 100 craps.
I've never mentioned this to anyone except a home-owning friend of mine,
who himself owns two dogs. His reaction is that it's terrible and
"unsanitary." Now, this friend of mine has a history of occasional
serious conflicts with his neighbors, serious enough that he sold his
house and moved into his other house (he buys fixer-uppers and now makes
a living renovating them). I always try to avoid confrontations with my
neighbors. I have enough to concern me without second guessing how I'm
getting along with them, worrying about what they think about me, etc.
I'm wondering if I should or can do a damn thing about the dog crap.
Yeah, I could politely talk to my neighbor, but I don't know what
footing I'm on here. Is this guy required to clean up after the dogs?
TIA for wisdom, etc.
Many dog owners are worthless pigs who don't give a damn about their
neighbors, so there's little or no need to be concerned about politeness.
However, for your own reasons, you may choose to at least try to deal with
this without involving police, arson or gunfire.
Based on the distance of your house to the fence, can you realistically tell
him the stink is bothersome when your windows are open, and ask him to clean
it up? Give him 20 minutes or a day, and if it's not done, call the useless
animal control department and find out what's legal. Sometimes, they are
staffed by people who think dogs are cute, and you'll have a hard time
getting a straight answer because they're afraid you might infringe on the
dog's rights, especially in California. In that case, ask a cop.
There are two agencies that you could check with to get up to speed about
what footing you have: the local code enforcement dept. and the health dept.
A third agency would be you animal control, but some jurisdictions are
limited in this regard.
During my 17 years with our health district, we had to deal with this
several times. It does constitute a public health issue with flys and other
vermin. It also may violate public nuisance rules based on the smell. Ther
could also be animal neglect issues from his not cleaning up the feces.
Once you gather the information, you'll have a good idea whether or not you
have any backing. My guess is there will be solid teeth to bite back if you
need to deploy them :-)
I'm in CA, and here I have called, animal control for the same
problem. It's not just the stink, it causes a health problem with
flies and other disease carriers. If animal control doesn't do
anything call the health department and complain. Of course, Berkeley
is, and always has been a "different" sort of town, so you might be
sued or arrested for complaining. :-)
Wanting to add that anyone who leaves that amount of dog poop lying
around, probably isn't going to rush out there and clean it up without
somebody "official" telling him to do it. JMO and good luck.
On Thu, 19 Jul 2007 17:02:08 -0400, "Don Phillipson"
:Unburied dog poop has presumably been accumulating
:for the last seven years or more. What changed so that
:only now do you want to do something about it ?
Nothing has changed. It just happens to be summer and the problem is at
its worst. A bit like A/C. You think to yourself, I should have it when
there's a heatwave. What do you imagine has changed? Well, I only
sounded my dog-owning friend out about it fairly recently, and on top of
that, the weather is warmer and the smell particularly noticeably in my
back yard in general, instead of only when I'm within 10 feet or so of
the back fence (where I don't hang out nearly as much).
The flies noted by other posters is an interesting concern. I try to
always keep my doors closed because it seems that certain times of year
if I leave them open for even 1/2 a minute, I get flies in the house. It
hadn't occurred to me that the dog poop would be part of the reason for
this. I imagine it actually is.
Trust me, it is. Once the poop gets cleaned up, you'll be amazed at
how the fly population decreases. I know, because I lived with the
same problem, but not for long. I don't understand people and "filth"
issues at times. I was at a store this morning, stepped in to use the
bathroom, and lo and behold, someone had changed a babies dirty diaper
on the changing table, and just left it there. Gack.
LOL, It's amazing the places people will leave these damned things these
days. Did you know?:
Eighty percent of the diaperings in this nation are done with
disposables. That comes to 18 BILLION diapers a year. Each one has an
outer layer of waterproof polypropylene and an inner layer of fluff made
from wood pulp plus super-slurper sodium polyacrylate that can hold a
hundred times its weight in water.
Those 18 billion diapers add up to 82,000 tons of plastic a year and 1.3
million tons of wood pulp -- 250,000 trees. After a few hours of active
service these materials are trucked away, primarily to landfills, where
they sit, neatly wrapped packages of excrement, entombed undegraded for
several hundred years.
130-Year-Old Outhouses Yield Treasures
Pair Of 130-Year-Old Ventura, Calif. Outhouses Yield Odd Collection Of
19th Century Artifacts
"The further you go down, the stronger the smell," archaeologist
Marisa Solorzano said. "But it's not that bad. These privies are
archaeological gold mines."
"The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!"
and firmly but politely tell him the smell is bothering you, and has
been for years, you just can't stand it anymore, and to please start
cleaning up regularly.
End the conversation right there. Don't get into it with him. If he
doesn't comply, go the official route. Give him a notice in writing
with a firm deadline and request to keep up the cleaning (keep a copy
for yourself). If he still doesn't comply with your request, complain
to animal control and public health. Take pictures before you talk to
him, 5 days later, etc, to document his level of compliance. Officials
won't do anything without evidence.
I would not speak to him about it but go directly to the public health
authorities. Let them handle it. That is why we pay taxes. They have
the clout of fining him if he does not clean up and should not disclose
that you called them and make an enemy of the neighbor.
I couldn't more heartily disagree. There is plenty of time to use the
nuclear option if the neighbor won't comply. I admire Dan for trying to
resolve this problem without crying to the government to solve the problem
that may not exist: this may be just a thoughtless oversight. Folks should
try to work things out amongst themselves whenever possible.
As to an annonymous complaint, forget it. Having handled complaints in this
category when working for public health, the complainants name becomes part
of the public record. Dan's name might not be released when the
investigation ensues, but it will be when there is a specific action like a
fine. It is part of the 'due process' that takes place, which allows the
subject of the complaint to ask for a hearing with the Board of Health.
I agree Dave. I might talk across the fence now and then, just chit
chat. I will not go next door for something serious. This puts me in
the "tiger den". I would rather ask the person over for coffee, etc.
Now, he is in my den. Even meeting for breakfast at a neutral
location to "talk". In a neutral location both parties have to be
civil in public!
"government in the Sunshine"
"The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!"
Even though he has never complained about it before! No, that is not
why we pay taxes. We pay taxes to handle problems we can't handle
ourselves. It's not like his neighbor is going to shoot him for
complaining. The WORST he will do is insult him or ignore him.
That's an argument, but it's not generally good enough. If this is a
concern, there are ways to feel out a neighbor without discussing the
dog problem itself whether he feels he is a good neighbor, and is
likely to respond to a personal request. Depending on the wind
direction, he might not know that there is any problem at all. Or his
nose might be much less sensitive than average.
It would be better to leave a tactful, anonymous note, or to send a
polite letter, with no return address, than to go straight to the
Even in a case where someone has complained before, if a year ago or
more, or in a case like this, even last summer, unless the guy blew
him off, he should talk to him again. That is, if he said, Yeah, I'll
do something, and never did, he should complain directly to the guy
again before going to any agency.
I watch the Piple's Court a lot, and it really ticks a lot of people
off when someone goes to a third party, especially a government
agency, befoer talking to them. It makes them recalcitrant, and they
tend to feel that if the complainer is going to use force, the agency,
then they are only going to respond to force, and they're only going
to do the minimum. If forced, they'll cooperate for a while, and then
they'll stop and then the agrieved party has to go to the authorities
every time he wants anything, an agencyt which may become slower and
slower to respond, in favor of pursuing easier cases first.
People also don't like having a negative mark on their "official"
record, and I agree with them.
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