Local News

Group wants to make doo-doo a don't in Durham

Posted December 3, 2015 6:44 p.m. EST

— Unlike many cities and counties across North Carolina, Durham doesn't require pet owners to pick up after their animals, so one citizen group is pushing a proposed "pooper-scooper" law.

The Partners Against Crime group in Durham's District 1 sent a letter last week to Mayor Bill Bell and City Council members advocating for an ordinance that would fine pet owners who leave dog waste on public property or in other people's yards $500.

"We feel that Durham needs to help clean up its mess," said James Chavis, a leader of the group. "Most of our dog owners allow their dogs to walk up and down the street without picking it up. We are no longer going to stand for you not picking up behind your dogs in our community."

The letter detailed the health and environmental hazards created by dog waste and noted that Raleigh has had an ordinance requiring pet owners to pick up after their animals since 1959. The Raleigh law carries a $50 fine for a first offense, $100 for a second offense and $150 for all subsequent violations.

Raleigh police couldn't provide details Thursday about the number of annual citations under the ordinance or how it is enforced.

Durham Councilman Don Moffitt said he understands the group's frustration with dog waste, but he said a local pooper-scooper regulation isn't the answer.

"I’m concerned about creating more ordinances with an expectation of enforcement," Moffitt said in an email to WRAL News. "People tend to believe that the solution to speeders is to have the police out there running a speed trap. That’s only effective as long as the police are present. The same will be true for a dog waste ordinance."

Moffitt added that police have other priorities and shouldn't be pulled off to respond to pet poop calls.

"We have a lot of violent crime, and solving those crimes and preventing others should remain the most important work of the Durham Police Department," he said. "Fielding calls about dog poop and angering residents who then have to wait a long time for a response because other crimes are prioritized ahead of them looks to me to be a recipe for creating more ill-will."