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Throw shit away in another person's can?
December 15, 2009 6:36 AM   Subscribe

Right or wrong: throwing away a tied-up plastic bag filled with your dog's feces into another person's trash can (with trash already in it) at the curb.

I take my dog for walks twice daily, and when he shits, I place it in a plastic grocery bag, tie it up, and usually walk it back to my house, where I throw it away into my own trash can. Occasionally, however, I'm tempted to toss the poop bag into a neighbor's trashcan if I'm somewhat far away from my house.

Is this OK to do? I wouldn't think of throwing it into an empty trash can (as in, the trash had already been picked up) I'm on the fence about it. My wife says no. Is there a right answer here?

This is in a mid-sized city in the Midwest, U.S.A. The trash cans are the standard large plastic bins provided by a private, local trash company. They look similar to this.
posted by c:\awesome to Human Relations (67 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Oh. I do that in my (city) neighborhood on trash days, but there are no cans, just bags at the curb. Since the trash owner never has to deal with it, I've never seen a problem with it.
posted by olinerd at 6:38 AM on December 15, 2009


Its fine, common, and better than leaving your dog's poop, on say the same neighbor's lawn.
posted by Max Power at 6:39 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


If there's no mess, and trash pickup is coming within a period of time where the person is unlikely to be taking out another bag or handling the can otherwise, then I'd say its OK. I'd be weirded out if someone were regularly depositing things in my trash, but once in a while and in a way that isn't obtrusive wouldn't bother me because it's basically the cost trash can owners pay for reducing litter. The garbage haulers don't charge me by volume.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:39 AM on December 15, 2009


If this is wrong, 95% of the dog-owning population of New York don't want to be right, based on my observations.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 6:39 AM on December 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


Completely fine. I say this as a non-dog owner.
posted by 8dot3 at 6:41 AM on December 15, 2009


Your neighbors would much rather you use their trash cans than their sidewalks and lawns. ...And your neighbors with dogs have most likely used your trash can for the same purpose.
posted by applemeat at 6:41 AM on December 15, 2009


According to Curb Your Enthusiasm, Season 3, Episode 1: not allowed.

I tend to agree it's bad. But I'd do it anyway. Larry is all of us.
posted by rokusan at 6:43 AM on December 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


I don't do it. It's your dog, your poop. Take it home or use a public receptacle. The garbage can, while being hoisted and emptied, might end up with a stinky smear of dog poop inside it. Not the end of the world but not making it a better place, either.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:44 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


As a non-dog owner myself, I wouldn't mind. But please, please make sure it really is the trash can and not, say, recycling or garden waste. I've had the pleasure of fishing a bag of dog waste from out of my garden waste bin. It was not fun.
posted by brambory at 6:45 AM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


If it would make you feel better you can always ask people if the mind, maybe set up some kind of poop throwing away co-op.

But really, you're throwing something away. As long as the owners don't have to deal with the bag then you're fine.
posted by theichibun at 6:47 AM on December 15, 2009


As described, it's fine. In practice, people throw in bags which burst into cans where the trash was already picked up.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:47 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


One for the fine column.
posted by Rinku at 6:49 AM on December 15, 2009


I just wish my neighbors would bag their dogs poop and use my trashcan as the receptacle. In fact if they did that I would go out and thank them for doing it.

I agree that it might be bad manners to leave it in an empty trash can or to walk up their driveway to deposit it in their bin, but I have too many people in my neighborhood that just leave it on my lawn or the sidewalk. Oh, and it's a lot better than walking home carrying a baggie full of hot steaming dog crap.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 6:49 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


would you mind if someone put their dog crap in your trash can? if it bothers you, then don't do it. personally, i would have no problem with someone doing this to my trash (provided they didn't make a mess), and i wouldn't hesitate to use someone else's trash for this purpose.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 6:54 AM on December 15, 2009


If it is actually a garbage bin which is actually full of garbage before pickup on that day (ie, not the one person who got theirs out too late and will need to bring it back inside), then it's fine to throw your own trash in, as long as it will not burst and dirty the can. In other words: double bag it or toss it in a bag that is open, then close it.

I really do not care if other people throw trash into my own trash.
posted by jeather at 6:57 AM on December 15, 2009


This was just addressed in Dear Abby, and some homeowners pointed out that they can be fined for it, or that their garbage collectors will not include small bags, and the homeowners have to collect it and put it in a larger bag with their household trash. Obviously, if this is the case in your area, it's not ok.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:08 AM on December 15, 2009


I do it. If it is an outdoor trashcan it's not a problem. Technically speaking the city provides our curbside pickup trashcans here, so ownership of my trashcan is kind of moot.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:10 AM on December 15, 2009


I don't see a problem with it, since it's about to be picked up anyway. With p_m's proviso above. (Ugh. Idiot garbage rules.)
posted by Dasein at 7:13 AM on December 15, 2009


I think it depends on what the trash collectors will or are supposed to pick up. On some streets I see little poop bags left behind because they slid off/out when the can was picked up and dumped.

I never leave one on top of a trash bag or in a can but not inside a larger bag. I have been known, however, to jam one into a gaping hole in a trash bag and tie the whole sucker back up.
posted by Pax at 7:16 AM on December 15, 2009


I would have no problem with this, and I once had to put a big sign on my trash can that said: "TRASH FOR APARTMENT XXX ONLY!" because some neighbor kept throwing their unbagged . . . bathroom refuse into our can.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:19 AM on December 15, 2009


i don't mind if people throw their own bits of incidental trash in with my trash as long as it isn't particularly noticable in vileness or amount.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:20 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


If the can has a strong looking liner in it, I'll put it in. If not, (I live in NYC) I will wait until the corner to throw it out.
posted by spec80 at 7:30 AM on December 15, 2009


I do it and I don't care at all if people do it to me. So there's a purely anecdotal data point. Walking down the street carrying dog shit is not fun; I say toss it as soon as possible.

Let me add that here in Asheville we have these "automated" trucks. There used to be three guys on a trash truck and two of them would jump out and turn the trash cans, which could be anything you wanted them to be, from shiny steel to old boxes, into the truck while the third guy idled the truck and blocked the entire street. At that point people might indeed bring their cans inside and I felt guiltier when I surreptitiously slid my bag of dog shit into them. Now that we are post modern, however, everyone has the same city issued giant green cans and they never go inside. There are two guys on a truck and a sort of crane like device - kind of like those things in vending machines where you try and fail to get the stuffed alien - picks up your trash can and dumps it in the truck while both guys sit there idling the truck and blocking the entire street. This whole changeover has alleviated my dog shit bag guilt - it's all going to the same place, without benefit of human hands - but added to my working class solidarity liberal guilt, since clearly we had a net loss of one job per truck.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:31 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I do it, but only when there's still trash to be picked up and only if their garbage is in a can.
posted by InsanePenguin at 7:36 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is probably technically illegal, as you're depositing your trash in someone else's receptacle. But the person who calls you out for responsibly disposing of dog poo is the same person who throws his cane at kids playing in his driveway.
posted by spamguy at 7:44 AM on December 15, 2009


Yeah, I do it quite a bit too (I normally walk my dog late at night when the cans have been pulled out for the following mornings collection), though I prefer to find a box or loosely tied lawn bag.

The best, though, are the large, open-air, temporary construction dumpsters. You can fling your bag from about 25 yards out, assuming you have remotely decent aim. I'm currently training my dog to give me a fist-bump after nailing one of those.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:55 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here in DC, I leave it in other people's trashcans, full or empty, and other people leave it in mine. No problem.

I only wish my less-than-savory neighbors would throw their syringes into my trashcan, instead of on my lawn.
posted by jalexc at 7:56 AM on December 15, 2009


I won't call it wrong as much as it's potentially ineffective and annoying for the trashcan owner. Trash services either manually lift large bags out of these containers or they latch on to it with machinery and tip the whole thing over into the truck.

In the case of manual removal, your little bag will never get picked up and the homeowner will need to fish it out and put it into a larger bag. If it's dumped mechanically, the little bag might go in the truck, or it might find its way onto the ground.
posted by odinsdream at 7:57 AM on December 15, 2009


I must admit that when I had an outdoor can, I HATED when people threw their dog poop in it. Yes, occasionally it was properly-bagged, but more often it was just loose in an open baggie, or just sitting on top of my trash bag (where it would often wind up in the street) or smeared down the inside of my trash can, or thrown in the empty can after the trash pickup but before I retrieved my can. And even properly-bagged, it still perfumed the can with eau de dogshit.

Even if I had a dog of my own and got the companionship and snuggling that makes the poop-scooping a non-issue, I think I'd still probably not want to see, smell, or clean up the poop of others' dogs.
posted by desuetude at 7:57 AM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


This could be a technical misdemeanor--theft of services--but I do it and don't care if other people do it to me. I think pretty much all of humanity would recognize that putting your dog shit in someone else's can is the lesser of two evils.
posted by HotToddy at 8:12 AM on December 15, 2009


Non dog owner who normally hates it when people put stuff in my trashbin. I'm OK with this. If it's all bagged up, and going to be picked up soon anyway, no problem. (I always put my trash out in small, recycled grocery bags and there's never a problem with small bags not being picked up.)

(Non-trashables like paint cans, motor oil cans and the like, on the other hand, make my head explode.)
posted by Kurichina at 8:13 AM on December 15, 2009


One rather oddball thing to consider, is if your dog is undergoing certain medical treatments, the dog's waste could trip of the radioactivity sensors that are sometimes used at landfills. A cat I once had was receiving thyroid treatment and we got a call from our garbage pick-up company that our trash had registered as radioactive. The only possible explanation was the inclusion of the litter-box waste in the trash.

I don't know if dog waste is as prone to this as a cat's, but I would suspect so. Depositing such "radioactive" waste could open the other person to some hefty fines. The garbage haulers gave us a pass on this first occasion but said if it happened again we'd have to pay a thousand dollars to get a hazardous waste license (or something -- don't remember what it was called but it was costly).

As for the general question, as a non-dog owning person I would not mind if one person threw their waste in my garbage can the morning of trash pickup. I would start to be less enthusiastic if multiple people started doing this because of the risk of spillage in the can due to untied bags, messy waste, etc. I live in a prototypical suburban neighborhood where trash cans are only on the curb the morning of pickup. Rules are probably different here than an urban setting.
posted by cptspalding at 8:18 AM on December 15, 2009


If the alternative is having your dog use my lawn or flowers, then ok.

Otherwise, take that crap home (literally).
posted by madajb at 8:28 AM on December 15, 2009


Know the rules of garbage pickup in your area and act accordingly. Where I live, the garbage contractor will manually hoist garbage bags from the cans, whose tops must be closed (overfull cans just get skipped). Anything not bagged or in small bags (a completely full grocery bag might be picked up, this would not) is left waaaay at the bottom of the can (fun to fish out) or on my lawn. Because of this, I'd get pretty irritated if someone started dropping poop bags in my trash. If they hoisted can and all and dumped in the back of the truck and there was no poop left behind from a broken or unsealed bag, I'd be fine with it, on trash day.
posted by notashroom at 8:30 AM on December 15, 2009


I find it to be super disgusting. If it's your dog, take the crap home. I also hate the fact that dogs are allowed to pee anywhere.
posted by reddot at 9:14 AM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Aargh. This used to make me crazy when I lived in an apartment where the can was publicly accessible, because our trash service only took out the the tagged household trash bags that I put in the can on trash day -- which means all the little damn bags of dog shit would sit in the bottom of the can until I myself reached in and pulled them out to put them in my household trash bag.

Now I live just outside of town and my can is in the garage until I drag it out on trash day, so I don't have this annoyance any more.
posted by aught at 9:19 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


As described, it's fine. In practice, people throw in bags which burst into cans where the trash was already picked up.

Emphasized for truth.

I'm with reddot. While preferable to letting your dop poop in my yard, leaving your dog's poop in either a full or empty trash can is gross and, I think, inconsiderate.
posted by cheapskatebay at 9:45 AM on December 15, 2009


Speaking as a homeowner, and non-dog owner, here are my completely unjustified thoughts...
- If the trash can is on the curb, with trash in: OK
- If the trash can is on the curb and empty (already picked up): No good
- If the trash can is not on the curb (e.g. by side of house): No good
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:49 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I did actually get yelled at by one of my neighbors for just this reason. OK, I don't put the bags in her can any more. Hardly anything is worse than walking around with a steaming bag of poo.

On the other hand, I've heard very good arguments that you shouldn't throw away bags of poo at all. You should dump them in your toilet for various health reasons. Too much for me, I'm just not that green, I suppose.

Oh, and to the person who is infuriated by dogs urinating in public. What about squirrels, deer, mice, moles, rabbits, raccoons, rats, cats, birds, snakes, etc.? Seriously, the world is awash in pee, get a better pet peeve, one that won't tweak you quite so often.

Metafilter: "The world is awash in pee"
posted by Invoke at 10:04 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


If the area is pay per bag then be sure it is well within and the bag is reclosed. people can get fined for the silliest of violations. Also if it is pay per bag then you may be suspected of dumping your trash in other people's paid for bags. I'd ask a few people on your route. Good way to get to know people in the area, because I'm sure they've never been asked that question before.
posted by Gungho at 10:10 AM on December 15, 2009


I do it and I think it's okay. I think the test is, if I saw someone using my trash to throw away dog poop, would I care? My answer is no.
posted by janerica at 10:19 AM on December 15, 2009


Personally, I think it's a slippery slope.

Everyone seems to agree that one bag of poop is no big deal, but what about a large bag of trash? I've got a city barrel that's picked up by an automatic truck with a giant robot arm, but it still annoys the HELL out of me when people dump bags of household trash in my barrel. The practice is disallowed by the city, for a number of reasons. So, where do you draw the line? There's really only one reasonable place: zero.

I don't know what's up with people and trash in my neighborhood. A couple months ago, my city barrel was stolen and replaced with a nearly identical barrel without the city seal and number. I didn't even notice, but the city stopped picking up my trash. WTF.
posted by rlk at 10:19 AM on December 15, 2009


So, where do you draw the line? There's really only one reasonable place: zero.

Another reasonable place would be at one bag of poop, which everyone agrees is no big deal.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:28 AM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I've done this. If the can is out at the curb on trash day, I think it's OK.
posted by lexicakes at 10:30 AM on December 15, 2009


As a hypothetical non-dog-owning neighbor I'd say I'm not thrilled about this based on the minor possibility that the bag will break one of these times and I end up with dog shit on the inside of my trash can. That is not the end of the world but it is gross. Sometimes I toss big hard pointy stuff into my bin so this isn't an outrageous possibility.

If I came around the corner and saw you doing it I wouldn't chew you out, though, because the consequences of people who don't clean up after their dogs properly are so disgusting that you are still solidly on the side of the "good guys" in my book. You're probably never going to talk your wife around on this one though.
posted by nanojath at 10:35 AM on December 15, 2009


Sometimes I toss big hard pointy stuff into my bin so this isn't an outrageous possibility.

As a side note, this is pretty dangerous and might also be against the rules where you live. In my old building, the maintenance people had been injured several times by glass, wire hangers, etc.
posted by Pax at 10:43 AM on December 15, 2009


I toss bagged dog doo in apartment dumpsters or in public cans. Thankfully, I live in a town with lots of public receptacles. Thank you tourists! I don't have a problem with this in my trash cans, either. Better in the can than on the bottom of my shoes. The easier it is to clean up after your dog, the more likely people will do it.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:46 AM on December 15, 2009


As a dog owner who's often wondered the same thing, the responses here are fascinating.

For what it's worth, we live in a rural/suburban neighborhood and we take our dog's bagged poo home to deposit in the only one of our trashcans that lives outside. The other trashcans live in the garage where the variety of wildlife can't get into them. I would feel bad depositing smelly poo into neighbor's trashcans because no one wants a smelly trashcan in their garage.
posted by geeky at 12:23 PM on December 15, 2009


Another reasonable place would be at one bag of poop, which everyone agrees is no big deal.

"One bag"? I re-iterate: it's a slippery slope. If you walk your dog every day, will you make certain to use a different neighbor's can each day? Will you inspect my garbage can for other dog-walkers' poop before you deposit yours? These questions are ridiculous, of course. That's the nature of a slippery slope.
posted by rlk at 12:37 PM on December 15, 2009


NO NO NO! I do not have a dog because I do not want to have to look at, smell, touch, or even think about dog shit. If you don't want to carry your dog shit all the way home, then you should get rid of your dog. It is your responsibility and not my problem.

My house is on the very early side of trash pickup - possibly the first on the route. I don't mind if you use my trashcan as long as there is trash in it and it is clear that I will never know about it. I fume at the anonymous dogwalkers who throw their dogshit in my empty trashcan so I have to look at it and smell it.

/Pet peeve/
posted by grateful at 12:41 PM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


"One bag"? I re-iterate: it's a slippery slope. If you walk your dog every day, will you make certain to use a different neighbor's can each day? Will you inspect my garbage can for other dog-walkers' poop before you deposit yours? These questions are ridiculous, of course. That's the nature of a slippery slope.

. . . you do know that a slippery slope argument is a logical fallacy, right?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:44 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Heh, golly I sure am sorry I used unsound rhetoric when I suggested that people might not want someone else's dog's shit in their trash can.
posted by rlk at 1:05 PM on December 15, 2009


Of course it is!

In Sydney, you put your garbage bin (we have plastic rectangular 120L bins) out the day/night before pick-up. If I'm walking my dog and have a bag to throw away, and bins are out for collecting, there is no problem with using someone elses bin.

I wouldn't throw them in a "fresh"-ly emptied bin that is waiting to be brought back inside.
posted by trialex at 1:19 PM on December 15, 2009


Around here people throw them in my recycling or greens cans. It's not like they don't know what the right can is, as they are presumably in the same city so they can tell the difference. So don't do that.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 2:03 PM on December 15, 2009


Yes, given your stated parameters, I see nothing wrong with disposing of the poo bag in any trash can waiting to be picked up.

Now, throwing it on top of a pile of bags is a different thing entirely.

Where I live, there is no limit to "household" trash that will be picked up, so I see no reason whatsoever not to deposit in any bin that may be at the curb containing trash the night before trash pickup. It's not like it costs anybody any more or causes any hassle for the owner of the bin.

Also, I agree with the others who have stated that I'd much rather see someone throwing a bag of poo in my bin when it's already out at the curb than leaving their dog's droppings on my lawn. That really annoys me.

Now, in cities where they have the stupid pay per bag system (wise up and get fixed sized bins if you want to have a volume limit, fellas!), there's a strong counter-argument and I wouldn't deposit in someone else's waiting bin.
posted by wierdo at 2:53 PM on December 15, 2009


I agree with your wife. It's not okay. Personally, I got annoyed when anyone touches anything in my yard without my permission. Keep your hands off of other folks' stuff.
posted by GeniPalm at 3:34 PM on December 15, 2009


Yes, it is ok. Geeze, it is a garbage can on the sidewalk. Although some people with nitpick anything to death. Better than leaving it on the sidewalk.
posted by fifilaru at 3:35 PM on December 15, 2009


Sounds fine with me.

I agree with your wife. It's not okay. Personally, I got annoyed when anyone touches anything in my yard without my permission. Keep your hands off of other folks' stuff.

I'm pretty sure the bins in question are not in anyone's yard--they're on the curb, about to be picked up by the trash service.
posted by darkshade at 5:28 PM on December 15, 2009


I am generally an ultra-conscientious person.

As such, I say, COME ON! Of course this if fine. Use a little common sense, which the poster is obviously doing, and live and let live.

For those who have a problem with this - for example, the person who doesn't like dog pee anywhere at all - I'd say you need better things to worry about and a little more tolerance.
posted by pitseleh at 5:29 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


NO NO NO a thousand NOs you are responsible for your own dog's poop! Don't like it? Don't have a dog! My trash is picked up only once a month! If you were to put it in there it could be weeks! Yuck! I don't EVER want to deal with dog poop therefore I do not have a dog, why would you even think of imposing dog poop on a neighbor! You can never be sure what the trash situation is, to even risk a stranger having to deal with YOUR dog's poop is the height of insensitivity! GAH!
posted by dipolemoment at 6:18 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


All the "better than on the sidewalk" or "better than on the lawn" logic seems to ignore that if there was no trash can there, the owner would do the normal thing, and carry it home.

It's laziness, right?
posted by rokusan at 7:12 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


dipolemoment wrote: "NO NO NO a thousand NOs you are responsible for your own dog's poop! Don't like it? Don't have a dog! My trash is picked up only once a month! If you were to put it in there it could be weeks! Yuck! I don't EVER want to deal with dog poop therefore I do not have a dog, why would you even think of imposing dog poop on a neighbor! You can never be sure what the trash situation is, to even risk a stranger having to deal with YOUR dog's poop is the height of insensitivity! GAH!"

So this trash can, it stays at the curb for a month?
posted by wierdo at 7:36 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is considerably less obnoxious than leaving the crap in someone else's yard, but it's still obnoxious. Yes, the more disgusting members of the dog-owning club are leaving piles around the neighborhood, but better behavior is not the same as good behavior. It's your dog, your mess, your trash can.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:38 PM on December 15, 2009


I'm pretty sure the bins in question are not in anyone's yard--they're on the curb, about to be picked up by the trash service.

Well, my sidewalk is part of my property. I'm responsible for shoveling it in the winter. And of course, I see it first thing in the morning when i leave the house, so shit that falls/splatters on it is my problem to clean up -- the city doesn't clean the streets or sidewalks.
posted by desuetude at 8:15 PM on December 15, 2009


I'm OK with it as long as it doesn't cost the bin owner extra. Since it's a household-size mechanical pickup bin, it's 99.9% likely that the haulers charge by the binload rather than by weight.

So, yeah. I'm with "Team Just-Poop-It". :)
posted by Citrus at 7:55 AM on December 16, 2009


An older lady on my street walks two Golden Retrievers. According to my wife, the lady scoops their poop and then puts it in the strom drain. This, to me, is worse than adding it to the trash can.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:11 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some people aren't supposed to be around animal feces due to illness. People who are immunosuppressed, for example, are supposed to be careful to not come in contact with dog shit (or at least, their doctors might tell them not to expose themselves to said shit). So, out of courtesy to not knowing exactly what kind of harm I could possibly be causing my neighbor, I'd just carry that hypothetical bag home with me, as unappealing as that might be.

You got a dog knowing that yeah, you'd have to carry a bag of shit around with you for a short period of time every morning. You, and not your neighbors, should live with that decision.
posted by k8lin at 7:25 PM on December 16, 2009


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