By Bridget Gonzales, PAWS of Southwest

Perhaps you’ve seen or smelled the little brown piles piling up around the neighborhood? It seems that some of our neighbors are neglecting their duties as a dog owner when it comes to #2. And let’s face it, owning a dog in the city, in a densely populated neighborhood like SW, requires all of us to go the extra mile; dog waste can be a nuisance and a health concern if not picked up and handled appropriately.  

Just to be clear, under District law, all dog walkers are required to pick up their dogs’ poop unless it is a registered seeing-eye dog. It should also be obvious to everyone that ALL poop is stinky, messy and unsanitary, and nobody likes stepping in it no matter how tiny your dog’s… er…. end product is.

So, for the inexperienced dog owner, new-to-Southwest DC resident, or the less-than-enthusiastic poop picker-upper, here are some neighborhood tips:

  1. Carry poop bags with you on walks and bring extras just in case. (I always have at least 3, if not a roll). Ideally, biodegradable poop bags are best, but old produce, bread, or newspaper bags work as well. Just don’t leave home without poop bags!!
  2. Regardless of what “kind” of poop, you are required to pick it up!
  3. Healthy dog poop should be solid and easy to pick up in whole pieces using a light touch—don’t grab and squeeze! If the poop is in the grass, make a claw-like circle with your fingers and then get as far under the pile as possible before lifting up the poop.
  4. On occasion, every dog has a bout of diarrhea and that poop is no fun for anyone! Pick-up the best you can—yes, it might require a couple of tries and picking the grass up too! And, before you walk away, find some clean grass, mulch, dirt, gravel, or leaves to mix with the remains to cover up what is left behind.  
  5. Place bagged waste in a public waste can while on your walk; or take it home to place in your trash can. At home, be sure to put poop bags in larger bags of garbage so they are picked up by DPW; otherwise they might get left behind at the bottom of your garbage can. And be advised, it’s illegal to put waste of any kind in another resident’s garbage can.  
  6. Never throw or leave bags of poop on the ground or in a storm drain.
  7. The unexpected happens—your pup poops and you’re without a bag! Find some sticks and insert them in the ground around the poop as a marker, then go get a bag and return to the site to pick up the poop.  
  8. Respect your neighbors’ private property. If possible, take your dog to low pedestrian traffic areas to do its business and keep them on the street side of the sidewalk for their regular walks.
  9. Never take your pup to a playground or recreational field to do its business.
  10. Send recommendations for where you’d like to see poop bag stations to PAWS of Southwest at

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