New Orleans Has Gone to the Dogs
By Thomas Emmon Pisano
Have you noticed a strange odor coming from our streets lately? It is probably the smell of pet droppings or animal excrement. That smell is everywhere these days. I live on picturesque Esplanade Avenue in the beautiful City of New Orleans. This avenue is a residential 2-lane thoroughfare with a wide neutral ground populated with old Oak trees. Here and there, we as residents have planted various ornamentals all along this little strip of park-ish earth, which stretches from the Mississippi River to City Park. It is a pleasant place for the Jays and the squirrels to forage and for the joggers and the walkers to enjoy as well. Now, it seems that the people who live and visit us here on Esplanade Avenue have, for the most part, decided that the neutral ground is a dog toilet. I can assure you that it was never intended to be a place for our animals to defecate; at least I hope it wasn’t. New Orleans is a cultural Mecca, and people come here from all over the world to view our historic treasures. So why are residents, guests, and some of our businesses fouling the city streets with animal manure? It is bad enough that we have become familiar with seeing and smelling the mule and horse piles that dot the French Quarter without having to watch the sidewalks for criminal dog droppings. Every little patch of grass is fair game to these canine dumpers as they roam around the city on the end of their master's leashes. The city does have in place laws that state that dog owners must clean up after their pooches. Here again, how do you enforce a law as hard pressed as public sanitation on the sneaky pet owners? I have talked with many of the people in my neighborhood who own pets, most of them are very responsible, and some are not. Many of my neighbors are complaining about the dog debris and they all admit that the problem is a conundrum that most wish not to deal with at all. Don’t misunderstand me, many dog walkers are responsible and do police their dogs by carrying the required plastic bags, and using them when it is time to clean up after Fido. Then again equally as many people do not care to eliminate their dog's mess from the public access way. I have owned many animals in my life and I have always given them the care and love they deserve which includes keeping them clean and healthy. That brings me to another point; leaving this waste behind opens the door for the transmission of diseases that can harm humans and pets alike. These can be spread by walking in such waste and through the nasty blue green flies that inhabit the air around this place. This is a public health issue; no one can deny that fact. Since the pet owners and the general public seem to be at odds when it comes to this part of the social contract the only thing we can do is ask the official and legal part of the city to act on behalf of the people. We do what is more than required as residents and homeowners to keep our sidewalks in front of our houses clean and safe. The passing public should have the same pride and respect for New Orleans. The law forbids people with beer soaked bladders from empting them on the public streets, why not the same enforcement for pet owners? The problem seems simple enough to solve but there are lazy people in the world and there is really nothing we can do about it as individuals. This is really a problem that lies in the heart of the law. Moreover, until the city decides it has had enough we have to grin and bear it. I personally do not like to complain to the City Council but sometimes you have to speak up and let them know when something is not right. Right now, the city has a great odor of manure; maybe it is the heat of the summer that amplifies the smell. That smell should not be there at all because it is unsanitary and it is a potential public health risk. These piles of mule manure are left behind by commercial animal drawn carriages and they have no excuse for leaving these smelly messes as they work around the City of New Orleans, none! This is shoddy workmanship and it should be regulated with supervision that is more stringent or there should be more city intervention, perhaps increase their licensing tax to include a clean up fee. Then pay a real sanitation company to clean it up instead of ignoring it. This seems like a complaint about small, insignificant, and petty things until you step in these complaints and track them home; around here in New Orleans, there are a lot of other people's problems to step in these days.
|Smelly street in New Orleans, United States|
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Mr. Thomas Emmon Pisano, an electronics-engineer-turned professional writer, serves as US correspondent for The Seoul Times. A New Jersey native he has lived in California. He has started his writing career in 2003 and has authored four books including “No Murder Too Small” and Big Crimes Small Miracles.”