Canine good conduct has been part of the New York City Local Ordinances since 1978. Licensing is mandatory, dogs must be kept on leads when outdoors, and it is an offence to walk a dog without carrying a poop-scoop. Licenses are administered by the City Health Department and cost dollars 8.50 ( pounds 5.60) per year - failing to license can be punished with a fine of dollars 1,000. Poop- scoop transgressors can be given a dollars 100 on-the- spot fine - adminstered by the police, sanitation officers and any traffic officials. These dogged officials also have the power to issue summonses for up to dollars 250 to leash-law and poop-scoop law violators.
Residents are enthusiastic. 'Sneer if you must at American goody-goody laws,' says Emily Green, who lived in New York when the poop-scoop ordinances were first passed. 'Nobody claims poop-scooping stopped drugs, gunfights, crooked landlords and insider-dealing, but the city was given a noticeable lift. And only an idiot would deny big cities need all the morale- boosting they can get.'
Opposition to the new regulations was virtually zero. 'It came in in the autumn when it was very hot and steamy - it was publicised that after midnight we would all have to pick up. It was an immensely popular law, and it wasn't seen as anti-dog - there is a real acceptance in the US that litter is bad and that this kind of littering is not acceptable.'
Social pressure helped the clean-up along. It became the one law that the average New Yorker is quite happy to help enforce, according to Emily Green. 'Hey, mister] Whatsamatter wi'you? Pick up after your dog, already]'
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