Good Samaritan Flags Hazardous Piles of Dog Doo on Cortland



With some luck and continued vigilance, we have reason to hope that Bernalwood’s stint on the crime beat will soon be just a bad memory. We’d like that, because it would allow this blog to return to the vapidity and fashion-consciousness that we are all about.

For example, did you hear about the new mixed-media art installation spotted on Cortland this week? Neighbor Beth saw it:

Gotta love Bernal: civic minded, funny, creative, and listens to NPR. Who’s responsible for the “Poop” signs? Someone made up little flags saying ‘Poo’ and applied them to all the offending articles on Cortland. Sorry, I was embarrassed to take a picture.


Not the cute little poop signs — So! Love! Those! — but the reticence about taking a picture. What?? Totally don’t get that. Everyone in Bernal Heights is a paparazzi. Without a photo, no one in Bernal Heights would actually believe that someone planted handy little poop flags on our neighborhood’s most fashionable stretch of sidewalk. It’s just like those clever Millennial kids say: Pics or it didn’t happen!

Luckily, Neighbor Beth later recovered from her squeamishness, and Neighbor Martha never suffered from it. They got the pics, and the pics reassure us: It really happened!! Because it did.

PHOTOS: Top, Neighbor Martha. Below, Neighbor Beth

76 thoughts on “Good Samaritan Flags Hazardous Piles of Dog Doo on Cortland

    • Or maybe they are just using what time they do have on hand to do something small but useful- like making sure you don’t step in dog shit (which is a thoughtfulness I appreciate).

    • It’s a lame, half-assed attempt to make a point.

      A better strategy would be to pick the shit up as a kind neighborhood gesture, then place a STICKER on the ground that says

      DOG SHIT
      was here and I picked it up
      Next time, dog owner

      • That’s a great idea! Are you going to do it? Cause I think what is great about the “Poop” signs is someone didn’t make a half-assed attempt at making a point- they actually did something.

      • Sorry but how is a sticker less “littery” than poop signs?…it’s a piece of paper, probably of the same dimensions…oh wait, it was your idea. I get it.

      • Orlando66- it takes courage to complain about someone’s good deed and sit on the internet and talk about how they would do it better? Interesting point of view!

        Anyway kudos to the poop flagger and ba-humbug to the naysayers! Seems like there may be a market for “I hate poop flag” t-shirts 🙂

      • Sticking a flag in unclaimed poop is not doing something. It’s grandstanding without anything positive in result.

        Me? I pick up my dog’s shit, AND I pick up other dog’s shit. I don’t put flags in it to draw attention to it, I GET RID OF IT. If you’d like to give me your address, I’d be happy to deposit bags full of not-my-dog’s-shit on your doorstep so you can see how often I do this. No acclaim is necessary, but you’ll be surprised how picking up the shit is much more effective than sticking a flag in it like you climbed to the top of it.

        Doesn’t that just make more sense?

      • @another neighbor chiming in: the sticker may or may not be less “littery” by itself, but it will be sans the offending poop, and thus less voluminous than flag+poop as a unit. I think. 🙂

  1. we could use some of those on the north side. if the person who made those poop signs is reading this and has some more, please get in touch!

  2. Seems to take less time to pick up the poop than to make the flags and planting them. Then again, I’m no fun and often miss the point. 🙂

      • I suppose that’s one way to do it. The downside, though, is that after the education and shaming, the desired result is still not obtained, and we now have flags on poops. I know, I’m pessimistic that way. 🙂 The bright side is that at least people are less likely to step on them.

      • It’s not their responsibility to pick it up. It is the dog owner’s responsibility. Don’t bitch about people not picking up after strangers’ dogs. They don’t have to.

  3. If I catch someone not cleaning up after their dog, I will tell them to kindly pick it up. If they dont, I will throw the feces at them. If i am not successful and do not hit my target, I will follow them home and crap on the porch/apartment door. You have been warned.

    One love!

  4. lets encourage all to pick up their dog’s poop and take the baggie with them to a trash can please

    • This is my biggest peeve. Taking the time to bag the poop and then leaving the bagged poop on top of a paper rack, mailbox or even (more often than I can count!) trash-friggin-can! Or, up on the hill, bagging the poop and then leaving the poop on the side of the road or in the grass. At least if you hadn’t bagged it out in the bushes it could biodegrade and do some good.

  5. As a dog owner that cleans up after my dog, and who picks up every bit of dog scat I see on my walks, I find this offensive and asinine. Just clean the mess up. Don’t litter the streets. You might feel better (or clever and smug) but it does nothing to solve the problem. As long as you’re bending over and fondling the crap, pick it up and dispose it.

    Do I like picking up after irresponsible dog owners? Of course not. But when I pick up the mess, its gone. When I don’t, it stays there indefinitely and bothers me again and again and again, as well as bothering everyone else.

    Does “shaming” work? Of course not. It just adds to the mess.

    • Offensive? Asinine? That’s ridiculous, or at least silly rhetoric – or, should I say asinine. Why should other people pick up the poop? This makes a statement – and its also an art installation.

      Basically, you (as a dog owner) believe that it makes sense for some other taxpayer to pick up dog poo. Well, you clearly like to do it so you should walk around your neighborhood and pick up every other dog owner’s poop. Personally, I think that’s more asinine.

      • Ahhh, the statement and the art installation. I forgot about that part. 🙂

        I could be wrong, but I don’t get the tone that KC feels that some other taxpayers should pick up dog poo because he’s doing it himself (or she herself). In fact, it’s unlikely that she’s picking poop up while telling any passerby (if there are even any witnesses) to follow her lead in keeping the neighborhood clean.

      • Yes, this stunt is asinine, as in stupid and foolish. It accomplishes nothing, other than making the “artist” feel smug and superior while leaving the neighborhood littered with “art”.

        Is it really stupid to pick up poop that irresponsible dog owners have left behind? Is it really better to leave it there? I am walking all over the ‘hood (~20 miles/week, all over the hill), equipped with bags to dispose of it, and not at all put out to do so. You think its stupid, I think it is simple neighborliness. The goal is a cleaner neighborhood, right? Picking it up seems more effective and helpful than the alternative.

        Trust me, I’m not the only dog owner doing this. And if we were not on patrol, the problem — which is real — would be worse. Honestly, the burden falls mostly on the homeowners and gardeners to clean up others’ messes, but there are some portion of us that are actively ameliorating the problem as well as we can. There are way too many dog owners not cleaning up. And on those very rare occasions when I have seen them walking away from their messes, I do not hesitate to call them out. More often than not (and its rare that this come up) the owner lacks a bag and I have a spare – problem solved. In 12-15 years of walking my dog(s) I’ve only had one run-in where the owner refused to acknowledge their mistake and just walked on while I called them out. But reforming bad dog owners is not going to solve the problem. Picking up the poop is ultimately necessary, so why assume someone else will do it?

      • Even if you count them as litter, the flags aren’t nearly as odious as the poop is. Unless you’ve been burdened by having to scrape a tiny flag off the sole of your shoe.

        If nothing else, it is a heads up to the non-baggers that we are watching them. Unlike catching someone in the act and sounding out about it, the flags act as tiny pink beacons, still and stalwart through the night, as if to say,”This poop will not go unnoticed. Not on my watch.

        Not on my watch.”

      • If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

        I don’t really expect people who don’t own dogs to pick up scat. You probably don’t walk around with plastic bags in your pockets, so how would you?

        But this individual did stoop down and touched the poop with their additional litter. In my opinion they would have been better off disposing of the problem rather than making it worse.

    • Right ON KC.

      If one thinks unclaimed poop is odious, how does sticking a pink flag to it to draw attention to it make it less so?

      Answer: It doesn’t. It makes it even more odious.

    • At least pieces of paper don’t cause disease. It’s not up to everyone else to clean up a dog owner’s property. It belongs to THEM. It came from their property and as such, picking it up would not only be stealing but it would tell them to go on and keep letting their rat dog shit all over the place as if it’s their personal shitbox.

  6. I’m with @jack and @KC on this one. Too much time on your hands, and you’re just adding to the litter. Perhaps contributing your extra plastic bags would be more efficient for everyone.

  7. For several months now, off and on, someone has been leaving BAGGED poop around. One particular house was “targeted” several times, and then another. Once in a while I’d see a bag laid carefully in plain sight along the top of Ellsworth. Then the front of MY house became the target.
    After two or three bags accumulated, I put a sign up that said “This poop left here by a sociopath/litterbug.” It stopped for a while, but just yesterday – another bag placed carefully on the curb. Why would someone BAG IT and then LEAVE IT, if not to be an asshole?

    • i’ve been seeing this bagged & abandoned poop phenomenon too! i think it may be the result of folks who sense they are being ‘watched’ as their dog craps, but dont want to actually carry around a bag of poo until they find an appropriate receptacle. it doesnt make a whole lotta sense.

      • I think this is because there are so few public garbage bins available (still not a good excuse). I moved here recently from NYC and that’s one of the first thing I noticed. Very few public garbage bins throughout the city. I’ve had to carry garbage forever (and it wasn’t poop). I imagine carrying a bag of poop around till you find a bin can be annoying. I’ve walked for blocks and blocks without finding a bin. Again, not a good excuse to leave it, but still, more bins might contribute to a solution.

  8. To help non-dog owners understand a bit of the problem, I offer you my experience as a new dog owner.

    Obvious reason #1 to not pick up my dog’s poop is that I either ran out of bags (ie she already pooped once, and I didn’t expect her to do it twice on the same walk) or ran out of the house without my jacket, where I generally have a good stash of them. Which is to say, that even a well-intentioned neighbor can sometimes find themselves without a bag. And after my dog has pooped twice in the back yard, why in the world would she have to poop AGAIN on our walk, anyway? really, dog? Totally did not expect that. bagless. shit. Then I go allll the way back home to get a bag and hope to still be able to locate the poop when I get back. Note that having a poop flag in this instance would be very helpful to me!

    Reason #2 is that I just plain didn’t see it happen. I do my best to keep a close eye on my dog, but sometimes she poops FAST and sometimes in that moment, my kid ran off and I got distracted. So it is possible that I just didn’t even notice. Please tell me! I didn’t mean to miss it. To make up for assumed misses, I generally pick up other unattended poop in the hopes that my poop karma will be restored. It is never my intent to leave anything behind. Mistakes happen.

    As far the dog owners or WALKERS (I know of one guy who walks down my street and never picks up after the dogs, says that they are not his dogs, he is just helping a friend, and so I guess that means he doesn’t have to pick up after them? he’s a nice guy, but what?), I can’t really explain why they don’t pick up after their charges.

    Since we are talking about dog poop, I have had recent intimate experience in Mission Bay where there are doggy bag kiosks every 100 feet. So handy!! And a lovely fenced in dog park. I’m not sure who pays for the dog bag service, but it would be neat to have something like that in bernal! hmm maybe I’ll look up the company who makes the kiosks and see what they cost to install and maintain.

    Would anyone else be interested in having these around? They are a bit obtrusive, visually, but oh so helpful. I can get a picture of them, if anyone is curious what they look like. Makes the mission bay neighborhood feel very dog friendly and welcoming. I like anything that makes a neighborhood feel welcoming. Seems like something good to bring to bernal. We could even put a little “poop flag” pocket on the kiosk in case the bags run out, or if a concerned non-dog owner wants to call attention to some unclaimed poop.

    • Ah, young dog owner… you must always ALWAYS prepare for the “ninja poop.” If you think it will be a one-poop-trip bring two, if three bring four and so on. My embarrassment lately is that my dog has had a little case of the nervous tummy, so she’ll poop once (bag it up!) poop a little bit again (bag that up, too) and then squat but no poop will come out. So, to avoid others thinking I am negligent in my bagging, I have to have these long, loud conversations with her about how she’s squatting but nothing is coming out. And make a big show of looking through all the grass for poop I know is not there. Sometimes, I’ll act like I’m bagging poop but just pick up a bunch of leaves to avoid looking like “that person.” Seriously, the things we do for love.

    • Here’s a hint. Bring a couple bags. Maybe even three in case someone else needs one. That’s what most of us dog owners TRY to do whenever we take our dogs for a walk.

  9. If it needs to be art, pick it up and make a map of the U.S., then set it on fire.

    I agree with some of above; pick it up! Do something nice for your neighborhood that’s not passive aggressive.

    There’s an older gent that lives on Harrison near the park, he picks trash up off the street while
    on his morning walks. Won’t get his work displayed on the blog here, but much more valuable.

    If your dog poops and you are out of bags, look around for a piece of trash and use that, it is against the law not to pick up after your dog.

    • You mean set it on fire *inside,* right?

      Don’t be too sure about the gent on Harrison not getting his work displayed here. But the same rule applies: Pics or it didn’t happen!

      • Pics or it didn’t happen? That’s idiotic. A truly good samaritan is not interested in your form of “acclaim.”

  10. instead of going on and on with moralistic comments and pissed off attitudes and excuses for not being responsible….how about someone goes to IKEA and gets a bunch of those plastic – plastic bag holders- fill them up with plastic bags and place them strategically around the neighborhood.
    on cortland etc – we can take up a collection at one of the stores ( I bet Good Life would allow it- or any one of the retail outlets) for purchase and replacement
    that way there’s no excuse for not having a bag when you need it…then we need to make sure everyone knows about the bag dispensers. especially the dog owners and dog walkers.
    this business of “art” is a joke. dog crap is offensive, stinky and could be dangerous.

  11. As I was saying about the dog bag dispensers in Mission Bay, they are from “”. I’ll install one (probably the “junior bag dispenser”, does the trick and doesn’t cost as much as some of the options on their site) in front of my house (high traffic area that gets lots of poop at the tree base) when I can, and keep it stocked with bags to the best of my ability. That’ll be my contribution to the neighborhood.

    Oh and if anyone else wants to join me, the “junior bag dispenser” costs $69, with a discount if we buy in bulk, and the bags to fill it are $10.95 for a roll of 200, again with discounts for buying in bulk (10 roll case for $81).

    There is also a single roll dispenser for just $15.95. It has less signage, though, and I think the signage is helpful. And there are biodegradable bags for lining the trash bins on the models that have them. I’m not going to get that kind, there’s a public trash can on my corner, but maybe you’d be interested in that option.

    The reason I think this will work better than the plastic bag holder thing is that someONE needs to be responsible (I’m volunteering for mine) for making sure the dispenser has bags and stays clean and replaces it if it gets broken. Also, plastic bags are illegal in SF now, so it might be a challenge to keep those public dispensers full. Whenever I’ve looked for a bag in one of those plastic dispensers (there are a couple near precita park), they have really dirty bags, like someone’s old sandwich zip lock that they didn’t wash out, and the dispenser is full of dirt, trash, and rain water and often broken, so it can be unsafe and gross to reach your hand in. Just not very user friendly, in my experience.

    kudos to the artist who brought attention to the issue and the discussion that ensued. installation: Successful.

  12. I like this idea. I will definitely get a plastic bag dispenser and keep it stocked.
    After reading this thread, I became extra super paranoid and brought along an extra bag on my walk yesterday. Murphy’s law says, if you have two bags your dog will poop three times. He pooped in front of someone’s house, right SMACK on their driveway. I ran up to their door, knocked and begged for a bag (I hesitate because I had never done this before). They gave me one with no questions asked. We made a doggie poop joke, laughed and said good bye. Poop crime averted!

  13. I have noticed many folks bringing their dogs on the North side of the hill via the Farm House Mansion corner between the light post that holds the mirror and the “No Parking” sign. Many of you unleash your dogs immediately to run free. And I am happy to see their joyful acts of freedom in the open hillside. However, many are not picking up after them, as you should. It is too easy to believe the, “it’s ok, no one saw” thought. Not so, I assure you that someone did. There is a lot of poop in that part of the hill and it is not a big thing to take thirty seconds to recover it and dispose of it in the proper places.

    Please, there are dozens of baggies in front of the Folsom St. Flower House for everyone to help themselves to. They hang in a net, nailed to the tree that sits in front. You are even welcomed to dumb the used poop bags in the bins that sit inside the corrals.

    It is not just a hill; it is “our” hill. And we are all watching.

  14. Instead of poop signs, lets just clean it up and get it over with. This is a waste of resources adding more garbage to a landfill than is necessary.

    • There’s also a poo bag dispenser, in front of Progressive Grounds, which has been empty ever since 2 days after it was installed.

  15. From now on, no flags in poop unless you’ve climbed to the top of the loaf. Photographic proof is required, per Todd L.

    If you’re unwilling to climb it, pick it up.

  16. Let’s all just agree with everything Bernalese, man has to say. He’s right about everything! He does all this wonderful public service and then threatens to dump it on someone’s doorstep…what a great guy. Need more of him on our team.

    • I was making a point, not a threat. It shouldn’t be so difficult to discern the difference, but apologies for feeling threatened by my comment.

      • No no, I should be sorry. I misread your elegant point because your prose was so well crafted and complex it went right over my head. Thanks for being here and making the world a better place. You are enchanting and a true good samaritan, not like the rest of us, you are the real thing.

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  18. I wonder what the dog owners posting here (enraged or not enraged) think about letting their dogs pee on sidewalks, benches, car tires, bike tires, trees, etc., on Cortland. What’s up with letting a dog piss on a wall so the urine flows all over the sidewalk and into the gutter? What’s up with using our neighborhood main street as a toilet, period?

    Not to mention how great it would be to actually be able to sit on the benches up on top of the hill without wading into dog-pee-quicksand.

    • Are you proposing we get rid of dogs altogether? The most desirable neighborhoods are the pet friendly ones. I moved from NYC and that was true there as well.
      I’m not sure what you’re proposing, but I’m pretty sure the only thing everyone is asking, including people that don’t have dogs, is that people who have dogs pick up after themselves. I’ve never seen anyone let their dogs pee on benches etc. I’ve seen plenty of humans peeing on walls though. So I really don’t get your point.

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  20. OK. I live in a beautiful neighborhood with sidewalks and greenway links to three other neighborhoods. The result? EVERYONE who has a dog walks it in our neighborhood. I am a responsible dog owner who always picks up after my dog. I went through our neighborhood and picked up a grocery bag full of dog poo one day and then I posted very tasteful small decals in a few places around the neighborhood, “Please pick up after your dog.” It helped. And I’m fairly sure that everyone of the dog-owning neighbors here pick up after their dogs. Right now, for some reason, the poop situation got bad again. I admit it. I put a flag next to a pile of poop that said, “Please pick up after your dog.” Do I think it will help? Maybe. Maybe not. But if the poop stays there, rest assured that I will pick it up along with the flag. By the way, the flag was lying in the street… so I didn’t create litter… just moved it a bit. I’ll let you know if the poop goes away. I have to say that uncollected poop is just wrong on every level and a slap to the face of every person, dog-owner or not. If people would just be considerate…

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