Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's a dog eat dog... Hoboken?

Dog, dog, dog-eatity dog?

Guest of the Stable "Furey" offers this insight into the new Hoboken311 system:

Operation: Bad Dog Owner

Ask anyone in Hoboken what is their biggest pet peeve behind lack of parking or potholes and you probably will hear about dog owners who aren't picking up after their dog. Its disgusting to walk down the street and see brown bombs all over the sidewalk. As a dog owner, it pisses me off when I notice dog owners that aren't cleaning up after their dogs "do their business".
When you walk dogs in your neighborhood, often you meet other dog owners and get to know them. Some you know by name. Some you know just by their dogs name. While there are others that you haven't met, but have seen them walk their dog often enough that you recognize them.
One owner, in particular, got my attention. After walking Rocco for the last three years, I notice that there was one dog owner who consistently was not picking up after their dog. This wasn't a once or twice thing, but it was Every. Single. Time. Every time I saw him walk his dog, he would let the dog poop - and then sort of do a quick "is anyone watching me" look to the left or the right and walk away.
At first I was going to say something. If you know me well enough i'm not someone that minces words, nor do I have a very good filter. This isn't the first time I confronted a bad dog owner. In fact, I remember once before I confronted someone else about not picking up after their dog - and they went so far to accuse me of needing glasses. I remember another time the guy was going to punch me that he was so angry that I caught him.
Perhaps third time is a charm, so I didn't say anything - I let my government do the work. I'm friendly with a few of the hardworking people in city hall, so I reached out to them and asked their advice. I first thought calling the police would be the logical step. Maybe they could do an undercover sting operation! This was met by laughter and correction - that I should contact the health department.
It turns out that by using Hoboken311: http://www.hobokennj.org/311/, I was able to report what I saw. I had a pretty detailed account of the guy who was letting his dog poop all over the place, he had a regular morning routine which was right outside his building. I knew what he looked like and knew what kind of dog he had. I basically wrote all the details in a request.
My honest thought was that no one would really do anything. I mean, how often do you really see the "little guys" get anyone to notice them in City Hall? I'm not some big campaign contributor or own a big business in town. I'm just a regular guy who gets easily annoyed at the double parked cars outside of Piccolo's. But that's a story for another day.
Imagine my surprise when I received this email only a few days later (with some details left out):
"Please be advised that earlier this morning, beginning at 6:45am, our Office conducted a surveillance of the area described in your complaint (Hoboken Health Department Complaint #[redacted]) in which the individual you described in your e-mail, was found in violation of 93-16 of the Code of the City of Hoboken (not picking up dog feces) and has been issued a summons to appear in Hoboken Municipal Court, on [redacted].

Director Pellegrini and myself would like to again thank you for taking the time to send the detailed information that you did which led to the catching of this individual in the act of creating a public health nuisance.

Frank Sasso"

Wait, what? It worked? This town isn't perfect. There's always going to be someone who is going to complain about everything City Hall does - and rarely do you ever hear someone complimenting City Hall on a good job. This is just an example that sometimes government works, and that Hoboken311 is a pretty nifty site.

As originally posted on Philly to Hoboken: http://networkedblogs.com/Kz75A