Head of School Blog

Fourth Graders Take Action Against Dog Waste on Our Streets!

Fourth Grade Class
Have you ever stepped in dog poop in Hoboken? Are you bothered by the sight of dog waste that has not been picked up by its owner? Have you worried that your young child might come into contact with dog poop while playing in one of our beautiful parks? According to our Fourth Graders and the results of their year-long Action Research project, you’re not alone! Last week, the Fourth Grade class presented the results of their findings to the Mayor and Hoboken City Council at their official meeting in City Hall. The Mayor was so impressed with the students’ work that she asked them for more information about their suggestion for having a supply of dog waste bags near every garbage can, and students gladly conducted additional research and sent it along to the Mayor for her further consideration. Their report follows…enjoy!

Introduction:

Good evening members of the Hoboken City Council. We are the Fourth Grade class from All Saints Episcopal Day School in Hoboken. We are here tonight because we are going to present a report about dog waste on Hoboken streets. In Action Research class we investigate a problem and then find ways to fix this problem. We decided to research this topic because we think clean streets are important and we think that dog waste left on the streets is a problem for everyone. To conduct this research we surveyed all of the Fourth Graders in Hoboken, conducted man-on-the-street interviews, interviewed Mr. Pellegrini, Director of Health & Human Services, and Mr. Sasso Health Officer. We researched what other cities and businesses are doing to keep their streets clean, and we researched the health hazards that dog waste can pose. We hope you enjoy listening to our report and that you will use this research to make Hoboken a better place.

Our Fourth Grade Survey:

Strengths and Challenges in Hoboken:

We sent surveys to Fourth Graders in All Saints Episcopal Day School, Calabro School, Connors School, Elysian Charter School, Hoboken Catholic Academy, Hoboken Charter School, Hola Charter School, Mustard Seed School, Stevens Cooperative, and Wallace School. We received 129 responses from Elysian Charter, Hoboken Catholic, Hoboken Charter, Hola, Mustard Seed, Stevens Cooperative, and Wallace School. We were pleased that so many Fourth Graders took the time to complete our surveys!
We asked the Fourth Graders what they like most about Hoboken. We found out that 110 Fourth Graders like the parks the most. We think they picked this because the parks in Hoboken are great and now that Church Square Park has been updated there are even more fantastic choices for kids!
Seventy-three Fourth Grade students felt that kids’ activities are one of the best things about Hoboken. We agree with this result as we love the fact that there are so many fun things to do in our town. Seventy Fourth Graders believe that the street fairs are really great. This made sense to us, because we also enjoy the fairs and festivals that Hoboken offers. Sixty-three students felt that our Rec League is something very special about Hoboken. The Rec League offers students from all schools a chance to play and grow together in our larger community. Lastly, sixty-seven Fourth Graders checked that they like all the restaurants. Hoboken does have so many wonderful places to eat and that really does make it a special place to live! Between the parks, restaurants, athletic programs, special activities, and street fairs, clearly Fourth Grade students recognize what a special place Hoboken is!
We also asked the Fourth Graders what needs work in Hoboken. More than fifty percent of Fourth Graders think litter is a big problem. We agree with this result as we often see litter on the street too! Seventy-four Fourth Grade students feel that parking is a big problem. With more and more people moving to this great city, it makes sense that our city will have to come up with ways to improve public transportation and parking in the future.

Project Eliminate Dog Waste

Fourth Grade Survey:

Ninety-three students think dog poop is a big problem. This did not surprise us at all! We see dog waste on the street all the time and many people don’t bother to pick it up. This disappoints us. We asked the Fourth Graders if they had ever seen dog waste on a Hoboken street. It was unanimous! Every single survey result checked yes. Eighty-four students said that they had stepped in dog waste at least once. Considering the health hazards that we know dog waste can potentially cause, we consider this a big concern!
One hundred and five students indicated that they know how dog owners are supposed to dispose of dog waste. We found this interesting because if the vast majority know how to dispose of dog waste, why is there so much dog waste on Hoboken streets?

This question may have been answered in the following response. We asked the students if they had ever known someone who paid a fine for not cleaning up after his dog. One hundred and eleven students had never met someone who had to pay a fine for leaving dog waste on the ground.
Only four students disagreed with the idea of giving a consequence to people who did not clean up their pet waste. One hundred twenty-five students felt that a consequence is needed. It was gratifying to note that the majority of Fourth Graders in Hoboken agree with our opinion- dog waste left on the street is a problem.

Man-On-The-Street Interviews:

This spring, we conducted man-on-the-street interviews. In all, we interviewed one hundred and thirteen people. More than half of the people we surveyed felt that Hoboken is a clean city. This is great news. However, one hundred and one people we surveyed said that yes they had encountered pet waste left on the street. Did this surprise us? No! We encounter pet waste daily!

Eighty-five people we interviewed felt that pet waste in Hoboken is a problem. When asked if they felt that dog owners should be fined for leaving dog waste on the street, one hundred and one people agreed, yet only twenty-one people knew of anyone who had ever received a fine.
We also asked if people thought making pet waste bags more available to the public would help reduce the amount of waste left on streets. The majority of people thought this would help. Lastly, we asked where should pet waste bag stations be installed. Ninety-three people felt they should be placed next to all garbage cans.

Interview with Mr. Pellegrini and Mr. Sasso:

This year, we interviewed Mr. Pelligrini, Director of Health and Human Services and Mr. Sasso our Health Officer. They were very generous with their time and provided us with much information!

We learned that:

1.) It is against the law to leave pet waste on the street.
2.) The fine one can pay ranges from $250.00 to $2,000.00. Violators could also face community service and even (although rarely) imprisonment.
3.) That leaving pet waste on the street is a health hazard.
4.) If you see someone leaving pet waste on the street, you should call 311 to report the incident.
5.) It is very difficult to catch people leaving dog waste because they tend to leave it when they think no one is watching or on less traveled streets.
6.) That when fines are given out, there is usually a reduction in the amount of offenses committed by those people.
7.) Hoboken employs “Can-Men” who work to keep the streets clean, as well as the street sweepers.
8.) Mr. Pellegrini and Mr. Sasso are working to make Hoboken a special place and appreciate the fact that our class cares about this issue.
We wondered if Mr. Pellegrini and Mr. Sasso felt that pet waste is a problem and they do! They work hard helping to create new parks and think of ways to make Hoboken such a special place. Just like us, they are committed to making Hoboken cleaner.

Walking Tour of Our Neighborhood:

We decided to take a walking tour of our neighborhood to document how much dog waste we found. On April 23r, 2013, we left our school on Seventh and Washington Street and walked one block over to Hudson Street. From the driveway of our building, to the corner of Seventh and Hudson Street alone, we encountered two piles of dog waste!

We headed up Hudson Street to Eleventh Street and documented six more piles of dog waste. Next, we walked across Eleventh Street and down Bloomfield Street. By the time we crossed Seventh Street to go back to our school we had tallied eighteen piles of fresh dog waste! This means that on every block we walked there was an average of 1.63 piles of dog waste. We find this unacceptable.

The Hazards of Not Cleaning Up Pet Waste:
During our research we found many safety concerns with dog waste:
1.) Water quality is negatively impacted by pet excrement. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), when dog waste is not disposed of properly, it can be picked up by storm water runoff and washed into storm drains or nearby bodies of water (like the Hudson River!) which causes water pollution.
2.) Dog waste contains millions of harmful bacteria that can cause diseases and could contain parasites. Dog waste is one of the most common carriers of the following diseases:
• Heartworm
• Whipworm
• Hookworm
• Round worms
• Tape worms
• Parvo
• Corona
• Giardiasis
• Cryptosporidiosis
• Campylobacteriosis
3.) According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diseases from dog waste can spread to other dogs, children, and adults.
4.) Dog waste falls in the same health category as oils and toxic chemicals.
5.) The EPA estimates that two or three days worth of waste from a population of about one-hundred dogs would contribute enough bacteria to temporarily close a bay and all watershed areas within twenty miles of swimming and shell fishing.

Ideas to Eliminate Dog Waste

What Other Cities Are Doing:

Did you know that pet waste is not just a problem in Hoboken? Cities and towns around the world face this same problem. We researched other cities that developed strategies to help combat dog waste left on city streets.
Mission Viejo, California: City officials recognize that pet waste left on the street is a huge problem. They developed a program called Operation Clean Street. Using their town website, they work to educate their residents about the health hazards pet waste can cause and ways to keep their streets clean.
Austin, Texas: When you visit Austin, Texas’ website, you will find a variety of information on the hazards of pet waste and you can even order Poop the Scoop signs for you residence. Their website shows that one great way to help diminish the amount of dog waste on city streets is to raise awareness of the health concerns related to this nuisance.

Portland, Oregon: This city’s website has clear instructions on how, where and when dogs can be unleashed. It also offers clear reminders as to the penalties one would face if they do not clean up after their dog.
Paris, France: The city of Paris has had a long history of dealing with dog waste left on city streets. Often dog owners in Paris are known to show a very passive approach to dog waste and leave it for others to step in. The city of Paris now pays a private company, Trottoirs nets, to clean the streets of dog waste. This company sends one-hundred green motorcycles with carpet cleaners bolted to the back to clean the dog waste.

Private Companies:

As we discovered in our research, some cities like Paris choose to pay outside corporations to take care of their pet waste problems. This would clearly be an easy fix, albeit a very expensive one.
One such company is called DoodyCalls. This company’s website indicates that it will provide the following services to communities:

• Create a pet waste management plan that meets a community’s specific needs.
• The sale, installation and servicing of pet waste stations and supplies.
• Clean and deodorize any community areas.
• Pick up loose trash from common areas.
• Assist with the planning of new dog parks.
We learned that there is even a trade association of professional pooper scoopers called aPaws. Their main concern is making sure pet waste is cleaned up from residential and commercial properties. According to an NBC news article there are about four hundred companies nationwide that offer scoop services in one form or another. The association has one-hundred and nineteen members, most with interesting names like The Grand Poohbah and Scoop De Doo.

Dog Waste Disposal Options:

We were interested in why some people would choose to pay another to pick up their dog waste rather than simply disposing if it themselves. Often busy professionals would rather pay someone else to clean up their dog’s waste than do it themselves. The question we ask though, is if people have enough time to walk their dog, why wouldn’t they be able to clean up after their dog? We do not think that paying an outside company is the best answer. What then?

More than half of the people and Fourth Grade students we interviewed indicated that they think people would use dog waste bags if they were available near garbage cans in Hoboken. Companies such as WAXIE- Sanitary Supply Company, supply doggie waste bags that can be purchased for the city. Other companies such as Pet Waste Eliminator sell doggie waste bags and doggie waste signs. There is even a company called Dog Waste Bags.com that sells bags for as low as two cents per bag.

These Are Our Conclusions:

We really love Hoboken and want to make it the best it can be. There are many things we love about Hoboken. There are some things we think can be improved in Hoboken. In conclusion, we want to summarize the most important things we learned from doing this project.

These are the most important things we learned about dog waste elimination:

1.) Dog waste left on the street is more than just a nuisance- it is a health hazard.
2.) Hoboken has laws in place to prevent dog waste being left on the streets.
3.) Passersby should call 311 to report violators.

These are the most important things we learned from our research:

1.) Every student we interviewed thinks pet waste is a problem.
2.) The vast majority of people we interviewed think pet waste is a problem.
3.) Residents of Hoboken think that installing pet waste bags near garbage bins would help this problem.
4.) The majority of people we interviewed did not know anyone who ever faced a penalty for leaving dog waste on the street.

Further Conclusions:

These are the things we hope will happen in Hoboken as a result of our
project:

1. More dog waste awareness signs will be placed around Hoboken.
2. Our city will spread the word via our town website, news articles, and signs that pedestrians who see violators should call 311 to report it!
3. Pet waste bags will be made available near all garbage bins.
4. Fines will be more frequently enforced to ensure that people do the right thing.

Finally, we would like to express our appreciation for the people who have helped us:

The Fourth Grade students who took our surveys, all of the people on the street we surveyed, Mr. Pellegrini, Director of Human and Health Services, Mr. Sasso, Health Officer, Mr. Rosa for helping us to document dog waste signs, Mr. May for sharing news articles, Ms. Horner for accompanying us to City Hall, all of our parents and families for providing support, our Action Research teachers Ms. Ferman, Ms. Karian, and Mrs. Nguyen, Ms. Clanton and Ms. Berhaupt our Upper and Lower Division Heads, and finally, Ms.Singleton, our Head of School. And a special thanks to City Council for taking the time listen to our report.

All Saints Episcopal Day School Fourth Grade Class:

Isabel Berkeley
Justin Brown
Stephen Christopher
Henry Engler
Jack Glynn
Gloria Gress
Tarragh Horner
Samuel May
Lucas Meiers
Isabella Park
Douglas Rosa
Evan Rosa
Harriet Xu

Questions? Thoughts? Ideas? I’d love to hear them! Email me: jsingleton@allsaintshoboken.com.
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