Dog Poop Along St. Anthony’s Sidewalks Creates Unholy Mess




Our venerable neighbors at St. Anthony’s Immaculate Conceptions School near Precita Park have recently done a lot to beautify the sidewalk gardens along Precita and Folsom, with much of the work performed by students who attend the school. The gardens look great, but the St. Anthony’s community has a request for local dog owners: Please control your pets and pick up their poop!

Geno Lucero, St. Anthony’s Class of 1963, writes:

I volunteer at a school by Precita Park (St.Anthony – Immaculate Conception), where my family has attended over the past 100 years. I teach a drumline class there. I also help with other needs & concerns for the school’s staff, teachers, and families, who form a wonderful community.

The gentleman who takes care of the sidewalk gardens on Folsom St. & Precita Ave. has been frustrated that dog owners in the neighborhood are using these tended planted areas as toilets for their pets. I understand it’s human nature to allow this when walking a dog, but would like to reach out to area dog owners / walkers to address this issue.

The gardener installed “No Dog Pooping” signs (and replacements when the originals were stolen) and built individual fences around each garden to protect them. But the problem continues, and it’s become a public health concern for the children at the school and in the neighborhood. This is to say nothing of the damage done by pets when they scrape the plants with their paws after taking care of business. The dog urine alone is killing off plants.

There are numerous instances of dog owners / walkers just tossing their bags of dog poop on the sidewalks around the school & neighborhood, too. It’s not easy to monitor, but if our good neighbors can be proactive stewards, the entire neighborhood benefits.

This school just celebrated its 120th anniversary and as an alumnus of 50 years, I care deeply about not just the school, but this wonderful neighborhood which it has served. Precita Park is another dog owners’ “paradise”, and it, too, is used in a similar capacity. Families & children should be concerned when public health is at stake. I have been a dog owner and love them, but my priorities now are with the health and welfare of those affected by some of the area’s dog owners.

Message received? This admonition holds true over every square inch of Bernal Heights, and (unfortunately) it always bears repeating: Dog owners, it is your responsibility to manage your pets in a neighborly manner, and always always always clean up after your canines. No exceptions. No excuses. Just do it.

PHOTO: Top, Poop flags on Cortland, February 2013. Below, St. Anthony’s sidewalk gardens on Precita, via Geno Lucero. 

72 thoughts on “Dog Poop Along St. Anthony’s Sidewalks Creates Unholy Mess

  1. This is seriously my least favorite thing about Bernal Heights. I have a young son and he lives close to the ground, as it were. I’m not one of those entitled parents who demands a padded world for their child — but the level of vigilance required of parents and children in Bernal today is too much. His friend stepped on a dog turd on the way to school this very morning, in fact.

  2. We had our Flynn Fun Run out there not long ago and I walked the park to make sure there weren’t any big piles of poop along our running course. I seriously could have filled a giant trash bag. What’s up dog owners?

  3. As nice as Bernal Heights is, you cannot walk even one block without having to watch where you step. The sidewalks are a mess due to dog owners not being vigilant of their pets. The areas of BH going towards Mission St/Mission District are the worst. There are plastic bags & garbage cans all over the place for a reason. Use them please.

  4. Sticking a sign in poop is completely lame and indicative of the “newly entitled” San Francisco.

    Picking up offensive poop and throwing it away is very “old San Francisco,” and an act of kindness.

    • although leaving a poop sign is passive aggressive, leaving poop on the ground for someone else to pick up seems pretty entitled to me too.

      • Unless one witnessed a dog owner ignore their dog’s poop, there’s no certainty (other than the obvious one, “a dog did it”) as to why the poop is there. If it’s bothersome, just pick the thing up.

        I’ve picked up my fair share of mystery poops, and at the park I always say “one warm one and one cold one” when picking up my own dog’s poop – I look around the vicinity for poop that was left. I I see recurring poops near my house, I try and keep a close out out to see where it’s coming from, but for the most part people clean up after their pet.

  5. I love the idea of a poop cam. The powers that be in the city are just plain cowards when it comes to dog owners and the destruction they allow their dogs to wreak, so if change is going to come, it has to be from those of us who are affected. Two other women and I spearheaded the Holly Park renovation 10+ years ago and the vitriol that was directed at us from a group of dog owners has made me very wary of saying anything publicly about this issue. I hope other people will step up!

  6. My favorite is when people walk their dogs past my house and let them crap in my driveway. It’s always nice to walk or drive through it. We have a dog, and we pick up our poop! I don’t want to pick up other dogs’ driveway poop.

  7. As a fellow dog owner, I’m also puzzled why there is so much poop in our neighborhood. I can understand once in a blue moon when you’re not paying attention and can’t find the poop in the grass. This clearly is not the case here. I always pick up other poop along my street and in Holly Park. I know other dog owners have done that as well. But yes, for the love of our neighborhood, I too ask fellow dog owners to be more diligent in picking up after your dogs.

    • Well, as a neighbor who takes care of one of our awesome stairways/non-drivable paths, I’ll say it’s because people walk their dogs off-leash everywhere. I see dogs walk down to the path while their owners are nowhere in sight. I hear them crap in the leaves and when I go out to weed the area (including removing foxtails for the benefit of my foster dogs and others that cruise through) I get the pleasure of cleaning up the poop of my lazier neighbors.

      My niece and nephew are freaking short (14mo’s & 32mo’s) and like to pick up EVERYTHING. Yesterday my niece nearly grabbed a turd on the same path I and other neighbors tend. That’s just disgusting.

      Pick up your crap fellow dog lovers!

  8. I’ll second that for Eugenia, Cortland and Elsie. Notice an increase in abandoned poop. Please dog owners be responsible and pick up your animal waste.

    • The poops on Elsie are presents from the feral cats, despite their impressive size. It’s been caught on camera. I pick up about one a day in front of our house – in addition to our pup’s productions outdoors (although she’s trained to go mostly on command in our yard to minimize neighbor annoyances).

  9. My solution is simple, and if a handful of other followed suit, the problem would all but go away.

    When I walk my dog, I pick up poop. I pick up any obvious poop I see until my dog has pooped, I’ve picked that up, and made my way to a garbage can. Some walks — most of them — my dog’s poop is the only one I pick up. Other times and other places — the new sidewalk gardens by ICA are a notable example — there are plenty of poops to clean up.

    On nice benefit to this approach is that the sidewalks nearest to my house are kept clean. It really works.

    People can rant and rave and come up with all sorts of exotic ways to shame each other. But at the end of the day someone needs to pick up the mess. Wishing the negligent dog owners would do so is a recipe for prolonged mess and frustration.

    If the poop bothers you, pick it up.

    • I appreciate your efforts, but…

      To clarify, is your suggestion that everyone should pick up stray poop?

      As someone who doesn’t own a dog, I’m not picking up poop. Period. Ew. Bottles, paper, trash, cardboard etc? Sure, I pick that stuff up all the time. Poop is different, because it is more vile and more unsanitary. I don’t handle poop.

      • As a non dog-owner, you’re entitled to complain without being pegged as part of the problem. I believe the suggestion above was mostly directed at dog owners.

        And by the way, we dog owners don’t handle poop, either. We put a bag over our hand and it works like a glove between the excrement and our flesh.

        Don’t you have a kid? Didn’t you ever change diapers? Same principle.

      • I have a kid. I dealt with kid poop. I did not enjoy it, and it was vile and unsanitary, and I do not wish to do the same for any creatures other than those that carry my own DNA. 😉

        Dealing with it in a bag is still handling it. I don’t handle poop.

      • OK Todd, you get a pass, along with anyone else who is ill-equipped physically or psychically to clean up poop — and especially if you’re picking up trash. Trash is way more prevalent and vexing.

        Us dog owners, the non-negligent kind, set out on dog walks prepared to clean up poop. We have the bags. We’ve overcome any germophobe fears. We will be picking up poop. So the cost to us of picking up additional poop is near zero. (I could go into the case studies where it is non-zero, but it would gross you out.) And by cleaning up the messes we find between our front door and the trash can where we dispose of our dog’s poop, we can effectively mitigate the problem — especially the problems closest to home. It would not take very many of us to effectively keep the neighborhood clean.

        No it does not solve the problem. Negligent owners will not change their negligent ways. But it is a hellofalot more effective than sanctimonious posturing or fits of righteous rage. At least with this scheme, the poop is cleaned up and the problem is contained. Its a problem that does not go away until a) someone picks is up, or b) the feces dries out and it pulverized into “dirt” – eewww.

    • Really, I should pick up your dog’s poop because you’re too lazy to do so? I don’t like dogs. I also don’t like cleaning my cat’s box. Maybe when I feel lazy you’d like to come over and deal with my cat’s sh*t.

    • I agree that your solution would make the symptom go away. That said, I gag picking up my own dog’s poop so I’m not keen on pickup up a giant pile of turd if it’s not mine or my dog’s.

      The poop bothers me less than the inconsiderate nitwits that won’t/don’t pick up after their dog.

  10. Poop on sidewalks and grass. poop bags dropped anywhere that’s. easy. People step on them, strollers run over them, cars crush them open. No rain, almost no street cleaning. This is an average scenario. And, amazingly, no dog owner is ever responsible!

  11. I think I say “watch out for poop” at least a few times when we walk to school.

    if I was a dog owner, and had a bag, and was picking up poop, and saw more poop,
    I would just add it to the bag. Dog owners need to unite to avoid those looks people like myself give all dog owners, because I know there have been plenty of times you did not clean it up – rainy day? Diarrhea ? Yah, you know you all have misses a spot. Or just don’t care and keep on keeping on.

    Human poop is making it’s way from Capp street as the area gentrifies.

  12. We’ve got a serial non-picker-upper with 2 little dogs on near street. Non of the offending streets are listed, and he keeps a close enough radius, so you may have one of your own. He’s been told, he doesn’t give a shit…err… except the ones he leaves.

  13. I was out for a run in beautiful Bernal and had some excess saliva in my mouth which I carefully spit into the grass on a sidewalk. Some lady walking her dog chastised me for doing so. I asked her if she let her dog poop and pee on the sidewalk. She proclaimed that she always picked up after her dog. I asked her if she cleaned up her dog’s piss too. She looked at me quizzically.

    Cool story, bro. Sorry, it’s Monday.

    • That’s hilarious. You shoulda told her you were part of a drought abatement strategy for vegetation retention. :p

  14. Can someone explain to me why dogs are allowed to pee whereever they like but humans must pee inside a designated bathroom?
    From my POV, urine is urine. Also, dogs (and cats) just flaunt their genitalia about without any care to my personal religious beliefs!

    • I’m assuming you’re either making a joke, or you haven’t lived in San Francisco very long. I have seen more people piss in more places then I’d like to remember. People can…and do piss wherever they want. I even saw a woman teaching her son to pee on a tree in Precita Park. Way to teach the next generation parents!

    • Clearly, you have never lived in the immediate vicinity of Dolores Park. Or indeed anywhere else in SF. My least favorite thing about this city is its ridiculously large percentage of non-housebroken residents.

  15. What is up with dog owners who manage to pick up their dog’s poop and then leave the bag wherever they like? Expecting someone else to complete the task?
    Carry your damn poop bag to the garbage can. You are giving responsible dog owners a bad name.

  16. I’ve been yelled at when I ask dog owners/professional walkers to pick up their dog’s poo. They conveniently didn’t see the shit. There is no way professional walkers can watch over each and every dog they are walking. Bernal Hill literally stinks of shit!

  17. To paraphrase an old saying that seems appropriate…you can poop in one hand and wish in the other and see which one fills up first.

  18. This dog poop problem is exactly why I declined to have a planted tree in front of my house…The tree, soil around it soon becomes the “Doggie Toilet,” for many pups. 😦

  19. I’m a dog owner who is acutely aware of how irresponsible dog owners make it tough for everyone. I don’t want dogs to get a bad rap so I do just as Bernalese, man does — pick-up my dog’s poop and whatever else is in the vicinity. I also pick-up when I spot a particularly poorly landed mine that is sure to cause someone grief. I figure it’s karma: the more I pick-up, the less likely I’ll step in some. It pretty much works for me. I’m also the woman who walks up to people with a smile and a spare dog poop bag to carefully point out where their dog just dropped one…in case they missed it.

    I’ll also add that even though I don’t have cats, I pick-up as much cat poop as I do dog poop. My flower bed out-front of my house is a veritable kitty litter box and if I don’t pick-up regularly it really begins to reek with that “special” smell. I know cats are different beasts from dogs and it’s the norm to let one’s cats roam the neighborhood crapping in neighbor’s yards.

    There will always be “bad actors.” Imagine a world where dog people, cat people, and pet-free people picked up poop whenever they saw it so no one could mistakenly step in it. It’s less about accountability and more about creating the kind of world we want to live in.

  20. ANSWER: When people can’t get along and do the right thing this is where government comes in. That’s the reason why government exists. I think that dogs should be banned from San Francisco, except for very specific kinds of service dogs. We have over 800,000 people living here. There is simply not enough room to have filthy dogs, too. And believe me, dogs are filthy. (I’ve owned many.) We don’t allow a resident to own a buffalo or any number of other creatures, so why dogs? Dogs need to run and play out in the open. This is what rural places are for.

    A $250 fine for keeping a dog would be a fairly good deterrent against dog ownership.

    This kind of thing wasn’t necessary when San Franciscans were more civilized, but I agree with what every annoyed person has said here: It’s out of control and people simply are not picking up after their dogs.


    No, I’m not kidding.

      • I went without a car for 8 years, taking BART from Bernal to San Ramon every day and to other places. If I had a career that allowed commuting to a heavily traveled stop, I’d sell my car. As it stands, tomorrow I’m servicing computers on O’Farrell downtown and I will be taking the Muni.

        So, you’re ratting the wrong cage if you think I’m married to my car.

  21. It’s even worse when a dog owner picks picks up the poo in a bag and then leaves the poo containing bag on the sidewalk. Bernal Hts has become a big doggie bathroom

  22. News alert: Dogs are here to stay. In SF, NY, London, Paris and all metropolises, as well as rural areas. People love dogs, hence the moniker, mans’ best friend.
    Dog owners must act responsibly and pick up after their dogs. Haters and misanthropes will go on hating. Cranks will go on being cranky. Complainers will always find something to complain about. How about bird/pigeon poop? Who do we get to blame for that?
    Dog owners must act responsibly and stop the petty BS.

    • I run the South Bernal Dog Toilet on Jarboe. I guess I’m a crank. The volume of dogs that use my facilities (my home) as their toilet has increased tremendously. One rush hour morning, guarding my wet concrete I counted 47 dogs that pissed and shat in a two hour period. Amazingly only 4 dog walkers left piles for me to clean up so I guess I cannot complain given the volume. That’s actually only about 10% of irresponsible dog owners which is not bad.

      I’ve found that the “Please pick up after your dog” signs make things worse. There seem to be only two types of dog owners: Those who take pride in picking up after their dogs and those who take pride in NOT picking up their dog shit. The signs only encourage the later to leave piles.

    • When the Vietnamese boat people first came to SF, they began catching dogs in the parks to eat. Suddenly, dog owners were no longer letting their dogs run wild, and they were keeping them close at hand. Unfortunately, the city told the Vietnamese that dog eating was frowned upon in this culture, but I had a good laugh because it finally FORCED dog owners to become responsible.

      Again, i’ve been a dog owner throughout my youth and into college, and I treated dogs as dogs, not as members of the family. I only had small dogs until I moved to a semi-rural area in the hills where I could run a larger dog. So, I’m not anti-dog at all. I just don’t see dogs being compatible with city living. We have nearly 830,000 people in SF. Dogs are simply incompatible with city life and should be BANNED from the city (bona fide service dogs being an exception).

      • So in this cruel and heinous world of yours, what exactly would you propose doing with the dogs who already live in SF? Mass euthanasia? It would suck to be a dog or dog owner under your “regime”.

      • Cruel and heinous? In some cultures people eat dogs and in other cultures dogs are sacred. Likewise cows. We eat cows, but in many countries cows are sacred. It all depends on perspective. Many cultures eat dogs, among them Vietnamese, Chinese, Fillipinos, Indonesians, all kinds of people.

        As I said previously, dogs are not compatible with city life; it’s bad for the people and it’s bad for the dog. Do you think a dog ENJOYS being cooped up all day and allowed to go for a walk once or twice a day? Dogs, like boys, are built to RUN AROUND all day. We’re doing a disservice to our dogs to keep them cooped up in apartments. Even the small ones need space.

        As I said earlier I propose that dogs be banned from most of SF, except Treasure Island, YBI, the Presidio, and Hunters Point (where there is enough room for them to run). And I propose a $250 fine for people seen with dogs that aren’t service dogs in the rest of the city.

        If you are a dog owner you are being CRUEL to your dog to keep it cooped up all day. CRUEL.

      • Actually David, dogs aren’t built to “RUN AROUND all day”. They’re built to sleep most of the day, with bursts of activity in between naps

  23. Are you serious? Your justification for dogs not being compatible with city living is biased and unbalanced. Most dog owners are responsible and caring for the needs of their dogs. To accuse dog owners of CRUELTY based on your generalized suppositions reveals your bias. There are cultures where cannibalism is the norm. What should we deride from that?
    The problem has to do with people being responsible. Taking responsibility is something that appears difficult for people.
    As I wrote before, dogs are not going anywhere. They are here to stay. In cities and in the country.
    People need to be responsible for the lives, children, dogs, whatever, that they agree to care for or bring into this world. Crazy, didactic proclamations are not the answer.

  24. Unless you witnessed a dog pooping, it is highly likely to have been a CAT.
    I monitored with video and discovered it was all the feral cats on our street.
    They didn’t even pretend to cover it by swiping the air. And before I did that I was cursing all “irresponsible dog owners”. I was wrong and totally surprised!!! Get a Dropcam and let us know what you find.

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