It's hard to imagine eight million people trying to avoid dog refuse on the streets of New York City on a daily basis. Likewise, it's harder not to imagine New Yorkers from all walks of life picking up after their canines. Using plastic bags or trendy, mechanized devices, pet owners have become a unified force in cleaning up the sidewalks of the Big Apple. Not long ago, picking up after your Poodle, Puli, or Pekinese was not a basic civic duty. Initially, many politicians thought the idea was absurd. Animal rights activists were unanimously opposed. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals condemned the proposed legislation because it would impose undue hardship on dog owners. New York's Poop Scoop Law chronicles the integration of dog owners, a much-maligned subculture, into mainstream society by tracing the history of the legislation that the York's City Council shelved twice before, then Mayor Ed Koch was forced to go to the state level for support. Brandow shows how a combination of science and politics, fact and fear, altruism and self-interest led to the adoption and enforcement of legislation that became a shining success.
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Michael Brandow has contributed essays and reviews to The New Criterion, Animal Fair, Stagebill, ArtNews, and Barron's. He has lived in New York for 25 years and has been active in the promotion of dog runs in the city.Review:
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
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