The Crap Around Montpelier
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Blogger’s Note: This post, first published on October 23, 2013, has been revised following the installation of some wonderful “poop stations” around Montpelier and adoption of a new Code of Conduct for dogs and people in Hubbard Park.
Dear Montpelier Dog Owners:
Some of you are leaving dog crap around our city. On my walk this morning, I encountered this at North Branch Nature Center: four bags of crap at a plastic-bag dispenser placed there for your convenience.
It’s not a trash can.
When I went to refit that detached piece of PVC, I encountered two bags of dog doo stuffed into the pipe. Two more are on the ground.
The executive director of North Branch Nature Center regularly goes out to clean this stuff up. He refuses to ask his employees to do it. And he’s got better things to do for our city, including sharing nature with kids and adults.
I’m also finding bags of crap in Hubbard Park.
Most of you are responsible. So please find ways to educate or police the irresponsible. A good place to start is the brand new Montpelier Dog Waste Management Plan, which features plastic bags and trash (crap) bins. It seems to be the right policy.
Breaking News (9:30 pm): Montpelier City Council approved 11 of these dog waste stations for the city.
I don’t own a dog, but they have always been big in my life. I enjoy or tolerate most dogs I encounter in Hubbard Park. But the park needs rules. We need them not only for dog crap, but also for simple harmony at the intersection nature and human nature. The city has adopted a code of conduct for dog owners. It’s great. Here’s the relevant language:
- In accordance with the Montpelier Dog Control Ordinance, closely supervise your dog by voice control or leash. Keep your dog in sight at all times.
- Don’t assume others want to interact with your dog.
- Don’t allow your dog to approach people or other dogs without mutual agreement.
- Carry a leash for every dog you’re walking and be prepared to use it.
- Dogs must have a current rabies vaccination.
- Dog owners must pick up after their dogs. Receptacles and bags are available.
These are most welcome standards. Let’s run with them. I’m a consulting biologist and field naturalist. But this isn’t necessarily about dogs off leash presenting harm to the nature of Hubbard Park. For the most part, dogs don’t threaten the ecology of the place (with white-tailed deer and ground-nesting birds among the vulnerable exceptions). This is instead about human nature and experience; it’s about accommodation. Yes, Hubbard Park is a refuge for people who love walking with their dogs. But it should also be a place for people to walk and think, to observe nature or simply do nothing in relative quiet. I’ve had dogs ruin my nature encounters in the park. I know of adults who don’t go to Hubbard Park because they are either afraid of dogs or dogs running off the leash frighten their children.
Yet we can respect our love for dogs and our desire for quiet moments on life’s long green path. There is no need to require leashes throughout Hubbard Park. I’m in the park several days a week. Dogs cross my path almost every time I’m there – some well-behaved, some certainly not. But let’s let this new policy work. Only if it doesn’t should we return to the issue (I hope we don’t have to), which might include designating some areas of the park either leash-on or leash-off. But the Montpelier Parks Commission has many more items on its agenda, including some exciting stuff. Onward!