Legislators have put their foot in the middle of a messy debate by backing Mayor Bloomberg’s call to increase fines for pooper-scooper violators.
After Hizzoner called for stiffer penalties on excrement scofflaws last week, the Assembly passed a bill that would do just that, raising the fine for repeat poop-perps from $100 to $250.
State Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge) is pushing the Senate version of the bill.
“It is about time someone deals with this,” said poop-weary 79th Street resident Maryanne Gouras. “Whatever deterrent is in place now is clearly not working, and I think increasing the fine is a terrific idea.”
Gouras believes the poop problem has only gotten worse in recent months, and often finds herself hosing down her walkway on a Saturday afternoon.
“It wasn’t like this a few years ago,” Gouras added.
Golden said he was happy to back the mayor’s bid to wipe out inconsiderate dog walkers. “It’s disgusting and unhealthy,” he added.
So, is all of Brooklyn going to the dogs?
Steve Debano, who works for Petato, a dog-walking and pet-sitting service catering to Brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods, believes the answer is yes, but the problem varies in severity depending on geography.
“Park Slope isn’t so bad comparatively,” said Debano. “But parts of Prospect Heights and Fort Greene are unbelievably disgusting.”
The Golden bill is required because the state legislature must approve hikes to city-administered fines. If it passes the Senate, Gov. Spitzer is expected to sign it.
The city’s pooper-scooper law — which caused controversy when it was created in 1978, yet is widely heralded today — allows cops, sanitation workers and parks personnel to ticket dog owners who don’t pick up after their pet.
Thousands of tickets have been written since, peaking in 1999, when more than 2,100 summonses were handed out, according to the Department of Sanitation.
In 2005, the last year for which there are complete records, just 471 dog-walkers were nabbed.
Some dog lovers believe increasing the fine isn’t necessary, and that results can be better by increasing enforcement of the existing law.
“Dog owners are supportive of any and all dog-poop deterrents,” said Brad Aaron who runs the pet blog “Poop City.” “But increasing the fine won’t do any good if there isn’t enforcement.”
Debano agreed that enforcement is the key.
“Raising the fine would be a great thing, if anyone ever actually got fined for it,” Debano added.
Aaron struck on one point of universal consensus.
“One thing that everybody agrees on,” Aaron said. “No one wants to step in a pile of dog poop.”