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New York's Poop Scoop Law: Dogs, the Dirt, and Due Process (New Directions in the Human-Animal Bond) Hardcover – August 1, 2008

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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions in the Human-Animal Bond
  • Hardcover: 349 pages
  • Publisher: Purdue University Press; 1 edition (August 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557534926
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557534927
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,929,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With the "largest canine population known in history," New York City in the early 1970s was drowning in 500,000 pounds of feces every day. In this overlong, occasionally entertaining account, Brandow details the situation with painstaking rigor, as the messy problem turned into a boondoggle of bizarre schemes, red tape and, eventually, 1978's State Health Law 1310, which requires dog owners to clean up after their pets. Proposed solutions included forcing dogs to use their owners' bathrooms, and City Controller Abraham Beame's suggested corps of "Envirmaids," female inspectors who would police the city "night and day." (Why women? Not only are they neater than men, they cost less.) Brandow gives plenty of time to these and other characters, including TV reporter Fran Lee, whose "what about the children" campaign pushed the theory (later debunked) that dog feces exposure would cause blindness in kids, and the work of more level-headed, well-intentioned neighborhood groups. Unfortunately, constant digressions drag the narrative, exploding the text to encyclopedic length. Even dog-owning Manhattan natives will have their patience tested plodding through the bill's inevitable ratification and aftermath; though occasionally engaging, this narrative is best suited for public policy students.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Michael Brandow wittily dissects the anatomy and enforcement of the law, and explores his premise that any issue as emotionally charged as this one just has to be about something more than the obvious. If the book has a hero, it s former Mayor Ed Koch, who pithily summed up his credo, at least on this issue, by saying: I don t care if it s good luck to step in it. I don t want to. --New York Times July 28, 2008

There was the usual bureaucratic gridlock: Koch inherited the problem from Beame, who inherited it from Lindsay, a waffler on canine concerns, according to Brandow, whose known pet affiliations were minimal. Tin-eared functionaries, too: You got five cats? And a dog? one city official asked a woman at a hearing. Christ. What you need is a good man. Then you had your community activists Max Schnapp, of POPA (Pet Owners Protective Association), a labor organizer and the owner of two Great Danes (Tiger and Sampson), a pet crow (Mitzvah), three rabbits (Pinkie, Dutchie, unnamed), a white mouse (Piggy), a baby squirrel (Elmer Wiggley), a gerbil, and half a dozen alley cats (Mau Mau, Nebisch, Sister, Freddy the Freeloader, Monty Wooley), vs. Fran Lee, the founder of Children Before Dogs grinding out their small-bore issues on the grand stage. It was an amazing time, Beck, who was the director of the Bureau of Animal Affairs for the city from 1975 to 1980, recalled. I was actually caught in the crossfire when dog feces were being thrown back and forth. (Gross but true: Lee, at a public debate, got smacked in the head by a loaded baggie.) --New Yorker "Talk of the Town" July 28, 2008

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joel Marks on June 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My feelings about this book are understandably mixed. On the one hand, the subject matter is ... unique? On the other hand, the subject matter (or an essential component of it) is disgusting. On the third, er, paw, the book is highly repetitive and unnecessarily detailed; for example, it often seemed to this reader that the author has never read a letter to the editor he did not feel was worth quoting. This book could easily have been half its actual length. On the fourth paw: There is no question that the subject could be mined forever since so many aspects of it are downright fascinating.

After all, that is why I picked up (oh, why did I choose that phrase!) this book in the first place: The subject intrigues me no end. By the subject I do not mean the gross matter at the heart of it all, but the phenomenon I witness every day when I go out for my own daily constitutional (sans leash, i.e., sans dog, as I have no animal companion). I don't know where I'd been the entire rest of my life, but it is only in the last few years that I have begun to take note of and marvel at the bizarre ritual I encounter several times on each walk, namely, human beings (of all walks of life, as we say) stooping down to scoop poop.

This brief gesture can be cognized (by me, anyway) in so many ways. First, perhaps, is simple astonishment. Second is utter revulsion. Third is hilarity. It is probably best to stick with the last, as dwelling too much on the two others is unpleasant and unprofitable. I mean, who could make this up? To see, for example, not only some shlumpy man bending down to do the dirty deed, but also a perfectly lovely and well-attired lady doing so ... in full public view ...
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a GREAT read! Anyone who appreciates political intrigue, especially NYC-70s-style, will love this -- dog owners or not. It paints a fascinating picture of the time, the ins and outs of public policy, peppered with a Dickensian cast of characters. Who knew poop could be so captivating??
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Greg Novie on October 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Excellent book, would recommend to all, especially of course dog owners. Would make a great coffee table book (where mine is right now) or in the bathroom, guest or master, fitting right in with all things scatalogical.
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