Dogs, Dirt, and Due Process

New book details what prompted, passed, and resulted from New York’s poop scoop law.

Picking up after your pup was not always a considerate habit. In fact, it wasn’t a habit at all in New York until 1977. “It shall be the duty of each dog owner to remove any feces left by his dog on any sidewalk, gutter, street, or public area,” stated Health Law 1310, commonly known as the poop scoop law. In the new book “New York’s Poop Scoop Law: Dogs, the Dirt, and Due Process,” author Michael Brandow tells the tale of a city, a mayor, and a whole lot of doggie doo-doo.

In a city overrun by dog poo, a culture war between dog owners and dog-less citizens erupted, dividing people on both sides of the proposed law, and the streets. Dog owners felt the law was absurd and humiliating and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals condemned it. However, if mayor Ed Koch was to clean up the city, he had to start with the most obvious and most odorous mess.

Brandow chronicles the legislation that started on city streets and required the Koch to go all the way to the state level. From the failed alternatives to the official enactment of the law, to the subsequent contraptions and services created to combat the poop problem, the book features an in-depth look at the law that influenced cities across the nation, and across the world, to start cleaning up after their canines.

“New York’s Poop Scoop Law: Dogs, the Dirt, and Due Process” by Michael Brandow is on sale now.

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