길동노래방 Something had to be done, but what precisely? For some time, dog waste had been a persistent problem, especially during inhospitable weather, when people were allowing their pets to relieve themselves in stairwells and corridors.
Because there was no “hard data” on the issue, as one memo from the building’s board of managers to residents put it, the staff had been instructed to keep a record of incidents for the month of December. During that time, the memo revealed, there were 52 reported occurrences, “a mix of diarrhea, feces, urine and vomit: found on virtually every floor including the main lobby and north and south lobbies; found in all five elevators and with the staff cleanup time ranging from 10 to 50 minutes (average time roughly 20 minutes) per incident.” What was happening wasn’t merely gross, it was also getting expensive. So in December the board decreed that all dogs in the building had to be registered and have their DNA tested, allowing stealth excrement to be matched to what we’ll euphemistically call the dogs’ wayward owners.
Science was going to be the new sheriff in town because appeals to courtesy were not working.
One Brooklyn is a building where a two-bedroom apartment of modest size costs about $2.5 million, and where debates intensified during the past few weeks over the planned construction of a new high-rise development just behind it in Brooklyn Bridge Park, meant to combine market-rate and affordable housing.
“We couldn’t bring down the incident rate through communication with our residents and tenants,” Douglas Eisenstein, the board president and owner of a Shih Tzu-poodle mix told me recently. “Every dog owner has forgotten a bag. Your wife goes out and uses the last roll and forgets to replace it. Accidents happen. I get it. But I have never been able to understand the frequency of these incidents in this city.”
In fact, the building had maintained a very tolerant position toward dogs that couldn’t make it to the ground floor. If your dog had an accident, you took care of it as best you could and then told the concierge, who alerted a porter to clean up the remains.
In the way that some conservatives worry that marriage equality will ultimately lead to people walking down the aisle with their goats or their half-sisters, some dog owners feared that DNA testing would open the gates to a new era of unstoppable oppression and tyranny. At the building meeting in January, which lasted about two hours, one woman, according to some of the residents who attended, wondered aloud whether the new testing policy would encourage nefarious conspiracy. What if someone didn’t like her, she speculated, and what if that person decided that the best way to express that distaste was by framing her with fecal evidence?
Theoretically you could get back at the person who had the last glass of punch at the Christmas party by following her as she walked her dog, retrieving the waste she deposited in the garbage and leaving it relatively close to her door.