A fair portion of New York City sidewalks are minefields of dog waste, and Harlem is no exception. Five years ago there was even a rash of stories in The New York Times and the New York Daily News covering the problem.
Of course, we all hate dodging the stuff, and the city has plenty of rules in place for people who don't clean up after their pets. In St. Nicholas Park, for example, signs warn of a maximum fine of $1,000 for those who don't get rid of their fur friend's poo. The only problem? The agent issuing the ticket has to catch the rule-breaker in the act.
Every small step towards finding a solution is welcome, which is why I was thrilled to spy shiny new metal Mutt Mitt boxes attached to the fences at two local parks, Alexander Hamilton Playground and St. Nicholas Park.
The small green containers are stocked with custom plastic bags that make it super easy to grab, turn and toss. Much easier than a bulky grocery bag or some old newspaper, right?
And, happily, this isn't the only weapon in the fight against dog-doo. The new Mutt Mitt boxes join many local attempts at encouraging neighbors to pick up after Fido.
Some are artistic, like the painted "Dog Bag Donation" signs by the artist M. Fox in St. Nicholas Park (they used to have bag receptacles attached to them, but the signs seem to have been decommissioned). Others are basic but useful, like the plastic bag-filled IKEA bag dispenser I saw attached to an apartment building's fence in Hamilton Heights.
My favorite of all might be the sign in front of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Large and bright green, it proclaims "Thou shalt not poop." It's New York City's very own 11th commandment.