The Dog Poop That Broke Park Slope’s Nextdoor
Real-life shit meets shitposting on Nextdoor.
2:53 PM EDT on May 20, 2022
How should we deal with dog poop left on the streets? This is a question that has hounded (hehe) the city ever since the creation of the first sidewalk. Officially, dog owners who don't pick up their pup’s waste can be fined $250, but we all know the truth—this is a mess that is up to us, the denizens of our fine city, to resolve on our own.
How this all sorts itself out can take many forms. But according to a revealing Brooklyn Nextdoor thread from this week, the way to deal with errant poop is vigilantism and public shaming.
The Nextdoor post in question began on an ominous note— "Does anyone recognize this person?" the original poster, from Park Slope (DeGraw-5Ave) wrote. The OP attached a video, pulled from her surveillance camera—in it, a woman with silvery blonde hair pulled back in a bun, a black long-sleeved top, and dark blue slim jeans is walking her medium-sized dog. You see them enter the frame from the right, before the dog pauses in the middle of the sidewalk and assumes the position. Once her dog has finished their business, she then bends down to peer at the log of poop now adorning the sidewalk. But instead of taking action, she then walks away, leaving all that shit behind her.
The woman’s actions are a little perplexing—why would she examine her dog's poop in that manner?—but to the OP, it was an outrage beyond compare:
Absolutely disgusting! On Friday the 13th (yeah I know, right?), at 4:07pm, she walked her dog who left a huge log on the sidewalk. She stopped, inspected the poop close up, and looked around to see if anyone was watching and stupidly didn't realize she was caught on camera from start to finish. I am so annoyed. She needs to be stopped. The entitlement is real folks!
She needs to be stopped. Chilling. In a later comment, the OP shared that she had seen the offending poop on Saturday, May 14 and, horrified, had reviewed an entire day's worth of security camera footage in an effort to identify who was behind the poop in front of her house. She Zapruder film'd the poop!
But to the wider network of the (usually totally sane) Park Slope and Park Slope-adjacent Nextdoor community, the OP's vigilante posture was met with encouragement. To several, the unidentified dog owner herself was a "piece of poop," as another Park Sloper (Carroll-7Ave) put it. "Pig," someone else sneered. "She’s a skankasaurus!" one man from Prospect Hts (Underhill-Park) wrote.
A Clinton Hill (Grand-Greene) resident then chimed in with a suggestion, an opportunity to bring the pain home: "Take a screen shot and post in neighborhood to shame her." The OP agreed. "She really needs to be shamed," she wrote, as the Puritanical roots of this country shone through. Another commenter then suggested that she print out photos of the offender and post them on the block—an "excellent idea," according to the OP. "That’s exactly what I’ll do," she wrote. A different commenter then suggested the OP engage in a bit of light stalking and harassment: "Print 50 of them and put them on every corner in the neighborhood. If you see her again (she is obviously local) then hang back, follow her home and tape the picture on every tree around her house. Scare the crap out of her and make every other person like her realize they are being watched. Also, if you ever find out where she lives then collect all the poop you find one night and leave it on her stoop with a note saying 'You dropped this. You're welcome.'" (Here we must note that Nextdoor's official mission is to bring neighbors together to "cultivate a kinder world.") Others also weighed in. "Post it on tiktok, they’ll find her," someone added. "Report her!" screeched a woman from Crown Hts S (Franklin-Union). In a surprising twist, a woman I know who used to work at a prominent, leftist legal organization spurred on the need for civilian vigilante action. "Print photo and post flyers. ALL AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD," she wrote. (We all have a little cop in our heart, and that cop loves to post.)
Sadly, dog owners themselves piled on the woman caught in the OP's surveillance video. "As an owner of two large dogs, people like this [poop emoji] of a human, give dog owners a bad name!" one woman from Ft Greene (Hanson-Fulton) wrote. "I search for a bag—would never leave the poop!" another sniffed. Those who pleaded for some perspective—who among us hasn't ever had a bad day, one where we forgot something vital?—were largely ignored. "Putin needs to be stopped. The uprise in violence needs to be stopped. Dog poop? In NYC that's a regular day," a Brooklyn resident wrote, drowned out amidst a sea of cries for retribution.
Was this all just bluster? Did the OP become the Batman and actually put up posters on her block? Was the poop merely an excuse for this online community to forget its own petty issues, and focus their ire on one whose action was so mysterious, so inexplicable, that they could only react with horror and scorn and calls for banishment? Was the rogue poop-leaver, just possibly, a poop "witch," as one commenter described her? Was she divining truth from waste? (Whatever she saw was clearly overwhelming, and powerful. Or maybe it just smelled.)
We may never know. (If you're reading this and you live on Degraw Street between 4th and 5th Avenues, call me!) But I have a humble suggestion to solve this centuries-long problem on our city's streets—just pick up the poop yourself if it offends you so much.
Let's solve this crisis not with punitive shaming and an ever-widening security state, but with a spirit of cooperation and care for our fellow New Yorkers. Yes, dog owners should clean up after their beloved pets. As a long-time dog owner myself, I burn with shame whenever I run out of poop bags, and many a time have frantically searched for a piece of trash I can use to dispose of my dog's waste. But I understand that shit happens. At times, I myself have stumbled upon another dog's shit on the street and guess what, I pick that up too! It's not hard! You don’t have to actually touch it!
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