Snoqualmie Valley Controversy: Is it Ok to Put Your Dog’s Poop in Someone Else’s Garbage Can?

‘Poopgate,’ a frequent social media skirmish, is not on the same level as Deflategate, using personal email servers or even a questionable celebrity’s 72-hour marriage.

However, the ethics of throwing poop bags in a neighbors can comes up SO often locally that I thought I’d do a little informal poll as to why it’s such a polarizing subject and why, in the end, it is an important topic.

“To the neighbor who put their dog poop in our garbage can, please don’t. My garbage can is not there for your convenience. I get to smell this for a whole week. Next time let’s show maximum effort and respect and take your poop or your dog’s poop with you. Thanks.”

This post and many more like it have always mystified me. In 2019 I made a New Year’s Resolution to be better about ALWAYS picking up Bee’s poop. It’s not that I didn’t pick up before, but I was at about 90% poop-picking, and I decided to shoot for 100%. Aside from a few accidents where I could not find it, I’ve pretty much stuck to my resolution.

However, it seems I have a dirty secret. One so ghastly I didn’t even know I had it. In the past, I’ve put my dog’s doodoo in a can, NOT MY OWN!

Photo Credit: Eileen Anderson

I know, right?

Before the slings and arrows come at me, let me defend myself a bit on this one:

  1. I would never walk down anyone’s driveway or up to their house. It is only if the can is out on trash day.
  2. I live on a private road and know who has a garage and who does not. I choose the cans that belong to houses that do not have garages.
  3. Said stool is bagged & knotted
  4. Folks are welcome to deposit their bags in my can if need be.

I usually carry it back, but sometimes I have more than one dog and need my free hand or said dogs have decided to be prolific pooers on that day, and I have 3 or 4 bags that I KNOW I’ll forget if I drop them to pick up later.

Confident in my position, I decided to do an informal poll with friends to see their thoughts. I first asked my husband, who said, “I can’t imagine caring if a tiny tied-up bag ends up in my garbage can. It seems kind of petty.” Clearly, the man has never picked up after a Great Dane, but off I went to Facebook, confirmation bias firmly in place.

I posted, Question for a silly article: Where do you stand on folks putting their dog’s poop in someone else’s can? Show your work, folks…for or against; tell me why?

Nineteen of my Facebook friends participated, and the results were six for dung deposits, nine against sh*t stashing and five I will call doo ditherers.

My pro dung deposit peeps Gwen, Jacki, Michelle and Sheryl cited various reasons for being ok with it, such as being glad it wasn’t left on the ground or in their yard.

The nicest reply goes to Sheryl, who said, “I actually offer my garbage can to those I see carrying a bag of poop. I mean, seriously, it is a garbage can, and who wants to carry a bag of poop on a walk if there is a garbage can. I am just pleased when people pick it up. The least I can do is reward their good behavior!” A virtual fist bump to you, Sheryl. 

On average, the anti-sh*t stashers Teresa, Anne, Robin, Susan, Margo, Amy, Tim, Becky and Scott were a little more outraged in their replies, saying it was rude and not cool. Most mentioned the smell (they must be privileged garage people), but others thought it was an affront to their personal space. One who will remain nameless doesn’t seem to like dogs…how the heck did they get on my friend list?

Five respondents seemed to be on the fence regarding this issue. Kelly, Daryl, Eileen, Topher and Laura had differing reasons for being iffy on the topic, but some didn’t do it out of fear of being yelled at, while others did it but only on trash day, and some allowed it but would never do it themselves. Kelly thinks we all need to chill, and I tend to agree. 

Photo Credit: Eileen Anderson

Still, there are two factors to consider when forming an opinion on the topic. The first is throwing your trash in a can that is not your own may be illegal depending on where you live. While I couldn’t find a citation in the North Bend or King County municipal code, the City of Snoqualmie code 8.28.040 Litter in general, says:

“No person shall throw, drop, deposit, discard or otherwise dispose of litter, as that term is defined in RCW 70.93.030(4), upon any public place in the city or upon any private property not owned by him, or in any waters within the jurisdiction of the city whether from a vehicle or otherwise, including but not limited to any sidewalk, street, alley, highway, or park, except;

A. When such property is designated by the state or by any of its agencies or the city for disposal of garbage and refuse, and such person is authorized by the proper public authority to so use such property; or

B. Into a litter receptacle or other container in such manner that the litter will be prevented from being carried away or deposited by the elements upon any part of the public place or any private property; or

C. When such person is the owner or does have control or custody of the property, or has prior consent of the owner or tenant in lawful possession of such property, or unless the act is done under the personal direction of the owner or tenant and provided the litter will not cause a public nuisance or be in violation of any other state or local laws, rules or regulations. (Ord. 535 § 4, 1984).”

Can you be cited for violating this code? Yes, “Enforcement of this chapter may be by any police officer. All such enforcement officers are empowered to issue citations to and/or arrest without warrant, persons violating the provisions of this chapter. The enforcement officers may serve and execute all warrants, citations, and other process issued by the courts. In addition, mailing by registered mail of such warrant, citation or other process to the last known place of residence of the offender shall be deemed as personal service upon the person charged. “

Has it ever happened? I don’t know, but it could, at least in the City of Snoqualmie. 

Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not better to leave dog poop to ‘breakdown’ rather than bag it up; domestic animal poop ≠ wildlife poop. It can contain harmful fecal coliform bacteria, zoonotic transmittable diseases and parasites. 

The waste left by wild animals benefits the ecosystem, while commercial diets fed to domestic dogs and cats can contribute nitrogen and phosphorus to ground and surface water, which can change the growing environments for plant and animal life. 

Invasive plant species, such as brambles or nettles, can take over forest undergrowth, making it unsuitable for its native species. If this contaminated water makes it to the ocean, it can reduce harvestable fish and shellfish and decrease biodiversity overall. This knowledge should convince us that picking up poop is the only way. 

Will I change my delinquent doo dropping ways? Perhaps. Will you? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Comments

  1. Lisa Nelson says

    With 250 ft. of street frontage on a well-traveled street, I go a step further and provide bags from a dispenser we have attached to our fence. If my can is out on the street, passersby are welcome to deposit. I however, don’t put my dog’s poop in other peoples cans because I don’t want to deal with their over-reactions. People get far too worked up about things IMHO. This same issue has been hotly debated in Portland as well.

  2. Part of the problem is those little poop bags are not made to last like a garbage bag….when you pile other items on top of ithe poop bag, poop can ooze out or the bag can tear and yes become stinky. Stinky poop is (for the most part) much more revolting than stinky garbage. Point in case being… how many people leave a room or fan their nose for a prelude to poop vs garbage?
    And yes…some people do actually wash out their garbage cans….but do not expect to find poop if they do not have a dog. I would say if you know the person well enough to go up to their door and say “hey can I use your bathroom?” you are probably ok to let your dog go to the bathroom in their garbage can….if you would not go up and ask to use their bathroom you probably should not put dogs potty bags in their garbage cans.

  3. There are others like Sheryl. I have been offered twice (typically by a person heading in/out from their house on garbage day) that offered their cans for me to dispose of the poop bag(s) I was carrying.

    Have I deposited a bagged poo in a can not my own before? Yes, but only if it’s trash day, and I see the can hasn’t been collected yet (and no snow on the ground; because you know with our snow garbage situations up here, that thing won’t get collected for 3 weeks 🤣)

  4. I think everyone in the valley should be keeping garbage cans in either garage or sheds due to bears. I recall a recent article shaming people for not doing that. With that being said, deal with your own poo

    • Melissa Grant says

      Personally, I don’t have a garage and on our road the bears peel sheds open like tin cans making folks reluctant. That being said the can you see in the story with the poop is mine. The only thing in it until the morning of pick up is dog poop and we wait until we hear the truck to rush out. I pay in rodents, but my trash is in the house all week long. I’ve tried for years to convince people to get bear cans but as we all know I’ve had little to no luck on that front.

      • Melissa Grant says

        And in all fairness to those who have tried to get bear cans, sometimes the process is long expensive and frustrating. The article you are speaking of was simply explaining what happened when bears had access to trash. If anyone felt shame, I can’t help that. I just gave facts

    • I live on a street where seeing bears on outdoor cameras is often a daily event. We do not have a garage so now what do we do? Well we do have a place for our cans, but any bear could get to them if they wanted. I can say most my neighbors have been hit by a sly bear garbage feeder. I knock on wood, we have lived here for over 13 years and still no bear has feasted on our garbage.

      We don’t pay for garbage service. We drive our cans to the transfer station 2 times a month and recycle weekly. Why don’t we get any critters in our garbage? It could be an old wives tail, told to us by some pretty knowledgeable people when we lived in Pagosa Springs, CO. You see, our home was actually in the San Juan National Forest in CO, the Rangers told us to put used kitty litter in bags on the top of the inside of each can. It worked. Prior to that we had used commercial grade ratchet straps and other contraptions (bear cans were not available) yet the bears always seemed to find a way to get into our cans. Garbage can raiding was so common the Forest Service had the collection company come 2 times a week. So… rather than go hunting down ripped open bags or scattered garbage we decided to try their method of using used kitty litter. Well it worked. I can’t say their has ever been a study done – but I can say we have never had our cans be used as a feeding frenzy since. All I know is it surely did work. It seems to also work here.

      So – As for me and my house? If you have a tied bag, you can use our can. One way or another the stink seems to even keep the mice away! Garbage is Garbage! However,with all that said I know I will never change someone else’s mind on their core beliefs.There will always be those that have gold plated cans. I for example have a sister who genuinely thinks her flatulence really only smells like flowers or not at all – I guess we have people in this world tha can gaslight themselves. My own sister is one who would believes she has elite smelling garbage too. You all may think your garbage doesn’t smell, guess what it does… and in case you all don’t know it yet – everyone poops too.

  5. Kim Harmeling says

    We have two dogs and make it a habit to never put the poop bags in other people’s garbage cans, simply because our dogs/our responsibility. If we had kids, we wouldn’t put stinky dirty diapers in someone else’s garbage, so the same applies to our fur-kids. If there happens to be a poop-receptacle at whatever park we are walking that day, the bags go there. If not, or if the bin is grossly over-full, it comes home with us. Frankly, I’m just happy if people are throwing it in ANY trash receptacle, given the number of bags we regularly see just laying next to the walking path, often only a short distance from the trash. Personal responsibility for your stuff people…it’s a good thing.

  6. Reviewing your behavior and deciding it is just fine is a terrible approach to decision making. Not using someone else’s property without their permission is a good approach to decision making. If you can’t think of why someone would not want your shit in their bin, you are selfishly focused on what is convenient for you. If 90 percent of people don’t care what you put in their bin, then you are intentionally being a jerk to 10 percent of the population. And you are probably being a jerk in many other ways because you have excuses instead of principles.

  7. Would it be ok if I canceled my garbage service and just used my neighbors garbage? This is such a simple question. Not your can, don’t put sh!t in it. Or anything else.

  8. I do bag my dog’s poop (and tie it off to be considerate) but I don’t bother disposing it in a garbage can at all! I just leave it on the ground wherever I happen to be. Later, the dog poop fairy comes along and deposits is properly. I assume in a garbage can left on the street over 24 hours after it was emptied. Or in can that are pulled off street but visible from the street.

  9. Coen Laatsch says

    As a father of two boys, often we’d do diaper duty on the go.

    Never once did I think it would be acceptable to use neighborly convenience trash in a trip about the community. I don’t think it would be appreciated nor wpild I like a fellow member of my community’s dog poo in my trash. It’s each owner’s responsibility to have a plan.

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