How do you solve a problem like dog poo?
May 11, 2018 9:07 PM   Subscribe

Someone in my large apartment building is letting their dog poop and pee inside the lobby of our building. It’s like RIGHT at the door leading outside, so it seems like they consider going outside, and then they just let their dog relieve itself inside. There’s carpet inside and tile in the foyer/lobby and the pee has soaked in. There are large amounts of poop as well that we (neighbors) have all stepped in. I learned from my neighbors that this is a frequent event and not a one time thing.

What action can we take? Our building management in the past has been pretty unresponsive and what exactly could they do anyways? I considered leaving a note on the door by the lobby asking whoever it is to stop letting their dog relieve themselves inside. On the carpet. Of the lobby. The park is 7 steps away from the door!

Because the building is large and there are many people, there’s no way to tell who it is unless someone caught them in the act.

Is there anything I can do/should do to prevent anon neighbor from letting their dog poop inside? Would a note be passive aggressive?
posted by buttonedup to Human Relations (19 answers total)
Ask management for a security camera system, post a sign alerting folks to the security camera system.

If you think there is even the smallest chance they may not realize they're doing a societally frowned-on thing, post a sign suggesting they not allow their animal to defecate indoors, but I think that is unlikely.
posted by arnicae at 9:12 PM on May 11, 2018 [10 favorites]

Yes, camera. In the short term, you could try setting up a dummy camera, or just the sign. If nothing else, it would tell the perp 'we know what you are doing, we don't like it, and we will find out who you are and shame you'.
posted by GeeEmm at 9:23 PM on May 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

My god. This is very far outside the social contract and I'm sorry you're dealing with it. It is so far outside the norms of living communally that I think a note would not accomplish anything. I mean, it's not like anyone of sound mind thinks it's acceptable to let their dog defecate and urinate indoors. So either the owner is not of sound mind (eg has dementia) or they have reasons for doing it that are so compelling to them (eg sociopathy) that I don't think a note will change anything.

I'm assuming your building foyer/lobby doesn't have security cameras or you would have said. Normally I'm not quick to suggest electronic surveillance, but I think that's what you need here. Anonymous pee and poop in a communal living space is, in my opinion, a problem worthy of surveillance to catch the culprit. Your building management should be on top of this. If they refuse, perhaps you can look into banding together with other residents and putting up your own until the culprit is caught.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:29 PM on May 11, 2018 [11 favorites]

I would maybe see if allowing a dog to poop indoor is against the law. I would think it has to be. And I would think even an unresponsive landlord would find this horrifying. I would think the landlord could send a very strongly worded email to all tenants telling them this is unacceptable and anyone caught doing it will be evicted or be charged cleaning fees or something.

This shouldn't be up to you to fix. Your landlord should be the one dealing with it, so I would start there - don't assume the landlord won't care because that's disgusting. If the landlord doesn't care, then I would consider setting up a dash cam or some sort of surveillance cam around the spot positioned so you could identify who it is and give it to the landlord and/or police.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:42 PM on May 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: When you guys say get a security camera, are those expensive? I am honestly salty about the thought of purchasing a camera when I would truly hope my building management does it. I will contact my landlord about this though, as I was afraid it wouldn’t be seen as important and brushed off, but hopefully they take poop everywhere in the lobby as a serious issue.
posted by buttonedup at 9:50 PM on May 11, 2018

as I was afraid it wouldn’t be seen as important and brushed off, but hopefully they take poop everywhere in the lobby as a serious issue.

This is a health hazard and a slip hazard, never mind that it's destroying their property. They *should* care. They should care about lawsuits. Maybe if you call the landlord, and they don't take it seriously, you could mention the potential for lawsuits. You know, out of the goodness of your heart.
posted by greermahoney at 11:43 PM on May 11, 2018 [12 favorites]

I would be highly concerned that this is a sign of animal neglect or abuse - even if unintentional due to owner's illness or something. You should contact your local animal protection if possible. They may be able to investigate to find the owner of the dog by contacting the landlord or knocking on doors. I would also consider contacting a tenants rights organization if your landlord is noncompliant. Document the hell out of this. Take photos for sure.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:51 PM on May 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

Surely whoever is doing it is breaking the rules of their tenancy and can be evicted by management/landlord for creating a health hazard? This is just beyond disgusting, and I have two dogs. What I would do is put up a security camera and a sign saying that the perp will be identified and prosecuted/evicted/whatever it is that the law or bylaws allow you to do. The scarier the better.
posted by Jubey at 11:51 PM on May 11, 2018

Absolutely only one thing that isn't born of malice comes to mind for why this would be happening. Are there only stairs in the foyer or maybe a bad ramp that isn't up to code? A person who can't navigate a couple steps can have a great deal of shame - and be at risk of having their companion animal taken away, which is another whole can of worms. And a dog with really bad arthritis or other mobility challenges can be extra difficult to keep in an apartment building. So maybe, just maybe, a temporary low-grade ramp and handrail would help? Of course, if the foyer is already accessible, then that's not what's happening.

A landlord will absolutely take this seriously, feces is a health hazard. Beyond that, it's a great way to make a horrible first impression to potential tenants.
posted by Mizu at 11:54 PM on May 11, 2018 [8 favorites]

I think though, the good intentioned individuals you would already know who they are (handicapped individuals having difficulty leaving the building, a guy with dementia thinking he is outside) those are noticable for a variety of reasons. Also, good intentioned people would clean up the poop or pee! Or they call management too if they were unable to clean it up themselves. In that case you would know who those people are because you live in the building with them.

This person is doing this when nobody is around to witness it. It is on purpose.

This person is not only letting their animal poop inside. But then isn't bothering to clean it up.

I do wonder if someone who doesn't live in the building is purposefully doing this for some reason if the foyer is accessable without a key.
posted by AlexiaSky at 12:13 AM on May 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

When you guys say get a security camera, are those expensive?

I recently bought this self-contained battery operated wildlife camera (complete with inbuilt motion detector and infrared floodlight) to catch whatever critter was eating my newly planted tree seedlings. Got it from Aldi for AU$119. Night movies are rather grainy but should still be easily good enough to identify your doorstep soiler.

Aldi is a bit random about when they actually stock stuff like this, but this Crenova camera looks pretty much identical; would not be surprised to find out they come from the same factory.
posted by flabdablet at 2:26 AM on May 12, 2018

I don't think that setting up a camera on the building landlord's private property, without their permission, is likely to be a good idea. By all means do it if you can get permission, but (contingent on jurisdiction) doing so without permission is likely to be trespass. You have a right to pass through the lobby, and probably to use it in certain other ways, but you are unlikely to have a right to set up surveillance. The potential abuses of that sort of right are probably obvious.

I'd personally kick up hell with the building management until they sorted it out, and contact the local public/environmental health department if they didn't do it pronto.
posted by howfar at 4:56 AM on May 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh, about the accessibility, the door/lobby where this happens is indeed a door with stairs leading down to the park. However, there is an accesible door with no stairs and a ramp leading to the same area which the whole building can use. I would think that the culprit knows this as everyone has to use that door to move in furniture, and it’s not far from the main door. Perhaps I should leave a note reminding them that there is another door with no stairs at X area of the building?
posted by buttonedup at 7:45 AM on May 12, 2018

Response by poster: Ok, here’s an update. I notified my landlord who responded quite quickly. Apparently, they knew about this person for the past month! The building management/condo association sent out an email that a tenant was letting their dog pee in the lobby/on the steps last month. So...they know. But haven’t done anything about it? My landlord asked that I keep an eye out and try to catch the culprit (?? I’ll try I guess?) but they will notify the building management again. I have little hope they’ll do anything different as they’ve already known.
posted by buttonedup at 7:50 AM on May 12, 2018

Depending on where you live you may have some leverage with violations of the condo board rules and as a renter with the city’s rental laws.

It sounds like this is a condo building, but do you know who the property manager is? Contacting this person or company directly may get some better results, as well as the president of the condo association board. There is almost certainly some language about this in the condo bylaws and it sucks that you have to be the one to put in the work to deal with this problem.

If you try looking up general condo board rules in your area you may get some actionable advice. I found a generic “what to do” advice column that talks about strategies for public poopers.
posted by forkisbetter at 9:45 AM on May 12, 2018

How do you know it is a dog? Is the area accessible by the public? In a relative's apartment transients were known to do this in an accessible stairwell.
posted by txtwinkletoes at 12:13 PM on May 12, 2018

Call your landlord back -- they've known for the past month(!), and their efforts thus far have been receiving an email that you didn't see or wasn't forwarded on to you (so how many other tenants may have missed it?) and leaving a message that was not returned? Cite the safety and health concerns within a legal framework as mentioned above, and stress that NO ONE has been able to 'catch' this person (and besides, what could you do in your capacity as a tenant in such a situation, anyway?).

Push back for security cameras -- or first float the idea of management paying for 24-hour guards on duty in the lobby for a month or so, and then grudgingly accept the offer of security cameras. There must some sort of accountability demonstrated by your landlord, here. They're slacking, and trying to make this a team project. It's really not.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:54 PM on May 12, 2018 [4 favorites]

Naples has used DNA to match poop with the dog. Perhaps management can threaten that.
posted by Sophont at 7:31 PM on May 12, 2018

Naples has used DNA to match poop with the dog. Perhaps management can threaten that.

I just moved into an apartment complex that does exactly that. They require a DNA sample from resident dogs for poop testing. I didn't even know that was a thing.
posted by neckro23 at 5:50 AM on May 14, 2018

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