When you spend multiple hours of your waking day walking dogs, you fall into a set of best practices, habits, and rituals. It’s your own little roving world—you, your dogs, your headphones—internally mapped out and optimized over time, forming a routine. Certain moral questions inevitably rise.
The one unambiguous sin of the dog walker: leaving dog shit on the ground. We’re not here to debate that. Those people should be sentenced to community service. I’m inclined to put folks who throw dog waste in their neighbor’s residential bins in that same camp, though seemingly reasonable parties can differ on this point.
Other dilemmas present far murkier etiquette questions, such as: When on a collision course with another dog walker, who plays chicken and crosses the road? What constitutes a not-to-be-trampled boulevard garden? Is it kosher to let dogs pee on snowmen?
Rolloff dumpsters are perhaps the greatest moral quandary. Specifically, whether or not it’s OK to toss dog poop bags in these ubiquitous construction-debris receptacles, which, in practice, exist in a nebulous zone between public and private. The splintered beliefs surrounding dumpsters are driven home when you see “NO POOP BAG” signs affixed to one, only to peer inside and find a rainbow mix of doggy dump bags amid the plaster and lath. For the city of Minneapolis, the matter is cut and dry. Here’s dutiful city comms guy Casper Hill, writing in response to an email I subject lined “Dumb Q for dumb story”:
“Technically, the situation you describe would be illegal dumping,” he says of rolloff dumpster poo disposal, adding that Hennepin County supplies “NO PET WASTE” stickers for residents experiencing illegal dumping. “Regardless if it’s a residential or commercial property, only the generator at that property is allowed to put items into the container.”
As a dork journalist, I felt it my duty (dog doody?) to seek additional expert sources. Three rolloff dumpster suppliers ignored my emails, including one on-the-nose Massachusetts company called Big Dog Dumping. The remodeling companies that have to toil in and around the dumpsters seemed like obvious stakeholders, though my message to Minneapolis-based Castle Building & Remodeling went unreturned. Desperate, I contacted a business called Poop 911 that apparently picks up dog feces for a fee. “Hello Jay, thank you for reaching out,” they wrote back in a spurning Facebook message. “At this time, we are not available for interviews. Thank you again for reaching out though!”
(That particular notification ding was the sound of my career bottoming out, like so much dog waste thwacking dumpster steel.)
Here’s where I show my cards. I think whipping dog poop bags into rolloff dumpsters is just fine, and I do it with regularity while walking my two well-fed Siberian Huskies. Among the lingering misgivings I’m able to compartmentalize: Is it gross for the construction workers and/or will it smell bad, and possibly bring flies, for the resident? (I can’t imagine contractors are sloshing around in the dumpsters; the bins are far enough away from homes, plus it’s freezing here nine months out of the year.)
Additionally, we’re tasked with operating in a society that supplies the barest minimum in terms of social and public services. If you’re lucky enough to live by a park, there may well be city-provided garbage cans for your dog’s business. If you’re not, I feel it’s the neighborly responsibility of industry—the recipient of infinite breaks from the subservient state—to throw folks a bone by unburdening them from their dog plop.
But let’s hear from the Twitter-prompted masses!
“I presume it’s construction debris so it’ll go to recycling. So, no,” writes one reader, echoing the official civic line. “The best place is your trash at your house.”
“It’s an enormous, open trash receptacle on a public street, so I have nothing but sympathy for anyone who tosses in a knotted poo bag,” writes one scofflaw. “Especially absent any sort of signage forbidding such a thing.”
“Absolutely. Same with people’s garbage bins in the alley or on the curb,” writes the most radical and, thus, controversial respondent. “We live in a society and they’re public garbage receptacles.”
“Not a dog walker, but have filled my share of construction dumpsters for renovations,” writes one softly pro-poop reader with apparent skin in the game. “Considering the amount of mouse turds and water damaged boards in the average roll away, I’d think it’s fine. But I don’t know where they go after pickup so could be wrong.”
“Absolutely NOT,” fumes another. “These dumpsters are often only supposed to have construction debris in them, because they specially process/recycle the materials. Not just thrown in the dump. It’s appalling the amount of poop bags that end up inside one of these. Speaking from experience.”
Finally, if you’re still with us, we’ll turn to you: Is it OK to toss dog poop bags in rolloff dumpsters? Click here to make your voice heard. (Sorry, the poll embed feature is, frustratingly, not working on our website.) And feel free to sound off in the comments, as is your right as a paying Racket subscriber.