Poops and the City

Dog poop. It’s the under belly of public spaces, neighborhood parks, side walks, lawns and your bushes.

We all love our pets and parks though some pet owners have a hard time following through on their daily pet duties—picking up the poop.

In response to the fouling of public spaces, municipal governments everywhere respond with ordinances, signs, code enforcement and other means to regulate, control and influence pet owners to do their civic duty: pick up the doody.

All urban planners have photo collections of city infrastructure. If an urban planner tells you they don’t have an odd obsession with bollards or some other mundane public feature, they are lying.

Lights posts, street furniture, building facades, banners, trash bins and bike lanes. I have photos of them all, including a grand collection of Car Prisons (aka parking garages).

And dog poop signs.

Why dog poop signs?

My interest in municipal dog poop signs started on a trip to Philadelphia for the 2008 National Main Street conference. From there, it all went to the shits, and my sign collection since then, has grown.

It’s the psychology behind the signs that were thought by someone, somewhere to be effective in encouraging human behavior change. Although my educational training is in urban planning, not psychology or behavioral sciences, the signs use of language and design “inspiration” draw my interest.

Why? Because dog poop signs apply some of the following tactics to enforce or encourage behavior change:
1. Fear
2. Guilt
3. Passive Aggressive
4. Humor
5. Education

Dog poop sign design has lots of variety. Some are designed with a local historical context and user a variety of different dog breeds; the dogs are usually are squatting or in the act of pooping.  Are these really effective?

Combined together, sign design and the informative words provide the most interesting perspective on the degree of severity of the dog poop problem.

My first sign in my dog poop collection, the Chimney Sweep as dog poop picker upper. Awesome historical and local context incorporated in this sign, and a dog with a very long neck. Dragon-like, says my husband.

Chimney sweep will get you and your dog!

Chimney sweep will get you and your dog!

Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey
Chim chim cher-ee!
A sweep is as lucky, as lucky can be
Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey
Chim chim cher-oo!
Good luck will rub off when you pick up the poo.

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