DOG OWNERS AND POOP LAWS

By Ruthie DiTucci

Featured image: Shutterstock Licensed to SyndicatedNews. The only purpose images with scantily clad women appear in this article is because most people who violate poop laws won’t read the article otherwise.

WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER WHEN YOU WEAPONIZE YOUR DOGS TO TRESPASS NEIGHBORING PRIVATE PROPERTIES TO LEAVE THEIR WASTE?

And you have to wonder why, otherwise kind and friendly people would be so stubborn and uncooperative when asked not to bring their dogs to private properties. The reason behind that is because they got away with it for so long, without anyone objecting that they began to think they had the right to impose their dog waste on anyone’s property (but their own).

In unincorporated Orange County, along Killarney Drive, in Winter Park, Florida an uninformed neighbor who lives on an adjacent street, was reportedly telling local dog owners that the lake side properties along Killarney Drive, were “public property” and thus, they could take their dogs there to poop.


Michael A. Haber, attorney at law explains Florida trespass laws

The opposite is true – every lakeside property along Killarney Drive, belongs to the home right across from it – none of the lakeside property is public – it is all privately owned, weeded regularly, watered regularly, chemically treated, landscaped and mowed.


AMAZON PET FOOD AND SUPPLIES

The “mistaken” neighbor was approached and questioned by authorities about whether or not he was sending people to walk their dogs on private property. Not only did he deny it, but the authorities are certain he will never send anyone again.

What may not be commonly known is that homeowners along Killarney Drive, pay real estate taxes for the privilege of owning the lake side parcel that sits directly across the street from each of their homes. It’s not “free” land they are taking advantage of – they own it because they pay taxes for it.


ORANGE COUNTY FLORIDA STATUTES ON ANIMALS (DOMESTIC AND OTHERWISE)


THE MAN WHO FOUGHT CITY HALL

One of the homeowners on Killarney Drive in Winter Park, Florida (who still lives in the original home) made a formal request to the County Commission of Orange County Florida, 45+ years ago asking for permission for the property owners along Killarney Drive to purchase the lakeside properties because it was not being well cared for by its original owners.

The owners of homes along Killarney Drive (between Ohio and Clay streets) do not know that one neighbor made a logical, sensible presentation to City Hall on behalf of all the homeowners – he did not just benefit himself – and won the neighbors along Killarney Drive, the right to purchase the lakeside property. Those families aren’t just taking advantage of their proximity to the lake – they pay real estate taxes for that property.

The property had been bequeathed by a private family to the Kiwanis (almost 100 years ago) so that the Boy Scouts would have a place to picnic and have sleepovers. The Kiwanis + Boyscouts programs failed miserably (hence the multi-billion dollar sexual assault lawsuits).

It was a very good fiduciary move to have the local families take over the lake edge properties because that entire strip of land adjacent to Lake Killarney has been producing real estate tax revenue for the county for decades.

Yet daily, dog walkers and pet owners brought their dogs, (sometimes on leashes sometimes not) to defecate on the private properties owned by families that live along Killarney Drive. Pet owners and dog walkers have allowed themselves to be led by people that are known to defy the law.

These perfectly reasonable and otherwise kind and logical people had been told that if all of them continued bringing their dogs to defecate on the private property that the property owners would eventually just “give in.”

They had convinced themselves that they had the legal right to bring their animals to defecate on anyone’s private property and that they would win their “cause” by forcing their repeated trespass behavior on property owners.

This article is not about pets or real estate. This article is about pet owners crossing the line towards criminality in a mistaken attempt to force the community to accept the premise that their pet’s convenience takes precedence over private property owner’s rights.

WHOSE RIGHTS TAKE PRECEDENT?

You can bet that every time a dog walker or a pet owner has brought his or her pet to relieve itself on public or private property, some camera nearby has recorded the incident. The “RING effect” is present all over the world (both on commercial and residential real estate).

If you are on someone’s private property (with or without a dog), your right to trespass is not more important than the property owner’s rights that you are violating. Law enforcement personnel and other emergency first responders have the right to any property where they may be needed. However, there is no such thing as “a right to trespass for the purposes of your dog to defecate.”

SOME ASK, “WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?”

When the owner or an agent of a private property asks you to leave the premises (that is the owner’s first request). You must leave immediately (not at your leisure). Telling the property owner that your trespass is justified because you are going to pick up your dog’s excreta does not justify having trespassed in the first place. It’s similar to a thief being asked to leave the premises and answering that he needs a minute to collect his burglar tools.

If you are captured by surveillance cameras while committing the crime of trespass a second time, now you have elevated your own trespass on that property by adding willful defiance. That is all the evidence the authorities need to begin a trespass case.

BUT YOU HAVE SEEN OTHER PEOPLE WITH DOGS ON THAT PROPERTY

You have been trespassed from a property, but you see other people with dogs on the same property where you were trespassed. How can that be fair? It is not fair – it is the law.

Anyone owning any property anywhere within the borders of the United States, has the legal right to decide who may and who may not be on their property. They may invite their friends, relatives, neighbors and pets to their properties.

And equally, you have the right to invite your friends and relatives to your own property. It has always been surprising to see that the very people that insist on marching their dogs to defecate on someone else’s beautifully manicured lawn, would not dream of letting anyone march on theirs.

Now, imagine you have set your picnic table, everything’s ready and your friends and family are ready to start their picnic, but your thirty-dollar-a-pound steak’s seductive aroma is attracting people from all directions. Several people walking their dogs past your house – are enjoying the aroma of your delicious Porterhouse and should just wave as they pass by.

Is it fair for anyone to make a beeline towards the grill to help themselves to your steak while their dog takes a shit next to the picnic table where your family and guests are eating? Absolutely not (and you wouldn’t allow it).

Walking past your family’s picnic does not entitle anyone to pull up a chair and help themselves to your steak. You know quite well that if someone tried it – you’d call the police!

Globally, there are no “right to poop” laws for domesticated animals (pets). The only right to poop laws that exist internationally, are the rights of a landowner to allow his or her own pet or livestock to poop on his or her own land. There is no legal right for anyone else to bring anything or anyone on someone else’s land – not for any reason – none whatsoever!

THE INNOCENCE OF WALKING A PET

Consider that when a pet owner is walking a dog, that pet owner has no malicious intentions. The only thing on that pet owner’s mind is for the pet to relieve itself (and to do so quickly).

On the other hand, consider what the property owner must be thinking as he or she sadly watch pet owners bring their pets to poop on the very property that they have spent hours weeding, watering, mowing, chemically treating, landscaping and paying taxes on.


YOU CAN ORDER DOG SUPPLIES THAT WILL ARRIVE TODAY

In the past, the word POSTED (by itself alone) encouraged members of the public to walk on by, versus having their pets poop on the property. People certainly did not let their dogs loose on anyone else’s property because in the past, property owners faced no legal penalties or prosecution when they shot animals wandering onto their property. It wasn’t a friendly thing to do by today’s standards, but property owners paid no penalties back then for killing someone else’s animal or pet when it wandered onto their land. And if it was a neighbor’s cow, that made for pretty good vittles for a year or so.


Image Source: Shutterstock licensed to SyndicatedNews featuring an irresponsible pet owner.


Luckily for today’s pet owners, society has evolved and in general, the public at large demonstrate care and consideration for lost pets. Today, strangers actually help pet owners find lost animals when pets are lost, stolen or just go astray. Even the security system known as RING has a “lost pets” section.

According to the American Pet Products Association, about 85 million American families (or 60% of the population) own some kind of pet. That still leaves 40% of the population that DO NOT own pets of any kind (and have absolutely no interest in pet ownership).

DOG FECES & URINE AFFECT DOGS, HUMANS, LAND

Dog owners do not realize (and if they do realize it and do it anyway – then they just don’t care) that dog feces carries dangerous pathogens and dog urine’s acidity content is high enough that it burns lawn grass in large patches. Here are the known pathogens carried in dog feces:

  • Brucellosis: Is a bacterial disease in dog feces that causes flu-like illness in humans.
  • Campylobacteriosis: This bacterial infection can be spread to humans via contact with feces from both dogs and cats carrying the bacteria. 
  • Leptospirosis: The common clinical signs reported in dogs include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, refusal to eat, severe weakness and depression, stiffness, or severe muscle pain.
  • Rabies: Being bitten by a rabid animal is only one method for your dog to contract rabies. Coming in contact with the saliva, feces or urine of an infected animal (whether it is dead or alive and whether the saliva is dry or wet) is the easiest way to contract rabies which can enter your dog’s system through its eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound or scratch. It’s most commonly contracted right through paw pads and between their toes.
  • Ringworm: In dogs ringworm can spread through direct contact with the fungus. This can happen when a dog comes in direct contact with an infected animal or person or touches a contaminated object like a couch, comb, food bowls, bedding, or carpeting.
  • Salmonella: Spreads mainly through feces from infected individuals and infects new individuals via the mouth. Dogs can become infected through contaminated food and contaminated water. International veterinary publications indicate the feeding of raw meat as the most common route of transmission in dogs.
  • Giardiasis: This is a parasitic infection that can cause diarrhea, gas, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting in humans and dogs. It can be spread through contact with contaminated water or soil that contains dog feces .
  • Hookworms: These are intestinal parasites that can infect dogs and humans through the skin. They can cause anemia, weight loss, skin irritation, and intestinal bleeding in dogs, and skin rashes, abdominal pain, and diarrhea in humans .
  • Toxocariasis: This is a disease caused by roundworms that can infect dogs and humans. In dogs, it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and poor growth. In humans, it can cause fever, cough, wheezing, abdominal pain, and eye damage .
  • What are other diseases caught from dog poop? E. Coli, and Campylobacter are bacteria that are excreted in the feces of even healthy dogs!

Image Source Shutterstock licensed to SyndicatedNews featuring a responsible pet owner.


EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY IN PUBLIC DOES NOT EXIST

In general, individuals have a much lower expectation of privacy when they are in public spaces. People are often observed and recorded by others without their consent.

While you are in the act of trespassing – ALL BETS ARE OFF… If a trespasser is captured on surveillance cameras while trespassing on private property, the property owner owns the footage and may use the footage as evidence of the trespassing. 

In general, a trespasser does not have any expectation of privacy while on someone else’s private property, especially if they had been trespassed and even if they did not know that they were being recorded.

A pet is a beloved family member “to its owner” only but holds absolutely no commercial or emotional value to other members of the community. And remember, that in the eyes of the law, your pet is merely “a piece of property,” the same as a snow blower, a bicycle or an umbrella.

Some pet owners even carry life and accident insurance for their pets, medical insurance for veterinary care and even traveler’s insurance for when they take their pets on vacation. Refer to this “Paw Policy” page for pet related insurance offerings. The Pawlicy Wizard page features METLIFE, EMBRACE, ASPCA, PUMPKIN, FETCH, HEALTHYPAWS, WAGMO and METLIFE as pet insurance choices.

Many pet owners even refer to their pets as “fur babies” or “their children”. Keep in mind that while a pet owner may love his or her pet – the pet is not a human being and has no significance in the law other than the value it has as property.

In reality, once the pet (your property) has roamed onto private property, the property owner’s rights supersede your rights as the owner of the dog and your beloved pet, has no rights.

Take precautions and do not hide behind a Pet Insurance policy either. When you examine your pet insurance policy carefully, you will find that the majority of the policy is mostly unenforceable on someone else’s private property.

TRESPASSER’S IMAGES WILL BE PUBLISHED

In our Florida neighborhood, we have asked people not to bring their animals onto our property to defecate or pee because feces and urine, burn grass severely. Nevertheless, dog owners and dog walkers continued bringing their animals to defecate anyway.

After carefully studying local ordinances, and learning that the property owner owns all images of people on their property, we decided to publish the images of the willful people that continued to bring their dogs to defecate.

Pet owners should know that property owners are within their legal rights to publish all and any of the photographs and videos their surveillance cameras capture of people parading their dogs on their private property.

When a pet owner lets his or her dog defecate in someone else’s yard, or worse, he or she has been asked not to bring their pet on the private property, it does not matter if it is on a leash

The dog owner is publicly stating to everyone that see’s them, that they have no regard for property owner rights. It means they are only concerned with their own immediate convenience.

The act of allowing a pet to defecate on someone else’s property, says…

  • I don’t care if the owner trespasses me and my dog.
  • I don’t care that my pet’s waste leaves pathogens or burns my neighbor’s grass.
  • I don’t care that my neighbor spends hours weeding, landscaping and mowing.
  • I don’t care about bringing my dog on someone else’s land to defecate.
  • My priority is my own and my dog’s convenience – I don’t care about my neighbor’s property rights.
  • One dog owner yelled, “I don’t care – trespass me!” (so we did).

If you live in the unincorporated lake side area of Killarney Drive in Winter Park, Florida (on any lake), do go ahead and call the Orange County Florida non-emergency police number to find out about your nonexistent pet rights when your pet roams onto or is brought by dog owners (or walkers) onto private property for any reason.

NIGHT-TIME TRESPASSERS (TWO MALES)

The night of Saturday September 16, 2023 at exactly at 11:41 PM, these two trespassers walked right on to private property with a flashlight like a pair of burglars! You can clearly hear them say that they are concerned that “somebody’s watching them.” The possibility that they’re breaking the law by ignoring all the ‘PRIVATE PROPERTY – NO TRESPASSING” signs doesn’t cross their minds. Do you recognize either of these men?

NIGHT-TIME TRESPASSERS (MALE AND FEMALE):

The night of Saturday September 30, 2023 at exactly at 4:57 AM these: two trespassers walked right in with an open can of beer in his hand on the right side of the screen but if you look at the upper left side of the screen you can see his female companion just getting out of their car. On their departure, with his open can of beer in hand, they return to their white car parked on the sidewalk. Drinking and driving. Do you recognize the male or the female?


The non-emergency number for the Orange County, Florida Sheriff’s Department is: 407 836 4357. We were able to reach a well educated Sheriff that is highly familiar with Florida’s trespass laws. He clearly identified himself and gave his assurance that trespasser’s pictures may be posted on the Internet (and our lawyers all agree).

And it turns out, that when a trespasser continues trespassing by bringing their dogs on to private property repeatedly, their photographs and videos alone will be sufficient to file a trespass law violation against the dog’s owner (and the dog too). The property owner does not even have to know the trespasser’s name!

Most communities have a non-emergency police number. You should call your neighborhood’s non-emergency police number to find out what your community’s poop laws are so that your pet ownership winds up being a joyful pleasure instead of a legal courtroom nightmare.

And as families go, the families living on Killarney Drive are not averse to pets. One of the neighbor’s dogs, (Ollie a champion Glenn of Imaal Irish terrier) has squatter’s rights. He comes in and plops himself against the cool tile and often falls asleep there. That tile floor is one of his favorite “cool” places.

The other dog, (Dakota the Dachshund), has vacation rental rights whenever her parents travel to visit relatives, etc. The dachshund is a totally entitled diva princess. We even have to warm her food for 10 seconds for her to make it more appealing!



Above image source: The pet owners provided photos of their family pets. On the left is Ollie the Glenn of Imaal Irish terrier (owned by the Brenner family) and on the right is Dakota the Dachshund (owned by the Yetter family).


TRESPASSING CREATES A CRIMINAL RECORD

When a person willfully walks onto someone else’s private property, that person does so at his or her own risk. Under Florida law, criminal trespass is defined as the willful entry into or remaining upon property without the express or implied permission of the owner or an agent. Trespass in a structure or conveyance that carries penalties that may include jail, probation, and a permanent criminal record.

THE WORD “WILLFUL” HAS A LEGAL DEFINITION

What defines willful? The legal dictionary defines the word willful as: “having or showing a stubborn and determined intention to do as one wants, regardless of the consequences or effects.”

The home owners do not even have to be home to tell you to get off their property. If the property has signs on it that say POSTED or NO TRESPASSING or PRIVATE PROPERTY, the property owner has met his or her legal obligation to “warn” people not to trespass.

In today’s highly technological world, many property owners have cameras videotaping all their properties whether they are present or not. That means that if you choose to walk onto private property with signage, and the property cameras record your visit, the property owner need not even contact you after the fact or even bother to learn your name.

PROPERTY OWNERS ONLY NEED AN IMAGE

Delivering the photograph to local law enforcement (police or sheriff) is all a property owner needs to do in order to file a “Trespasser Complaint”. And that’s not a little thing. Getting a trespass complaint off your formal record is difficult because a trespass record is permanent.

After the owner of the property has made it known to the trespasser that he or she is not welcome on the property, and the trespasser does it “again”, the trespasser has just given the authorities all they legally need to file a trespassing case. That photograph (yes, your image) is the first step towards a legal trespass case.


Above image: Shutterstock Licensed to SyndicatedNews. The only purpose images with scantily clad women appear in this article is because most people who violate poop laws won’t read the article otherwise.

This matter has little to do with poop or pee – it has to do with the trespass laws in your community and the respect you offer your neighbors! Having your animal use your neighbor’s property as a toilet is the most efficient way of communicating that you don’t care about your neighbor.



You should also know that the photographs in this dog “Walk of Shame” parade does not mean the human is about to be charged with trespassing; it only means that “the person is on notice.” Those that repeat the behavior, will be trespassed because we do not have to watch out for you – surveillance cameras do that for us.

It is not a coincidence that the trespassers are mostly the same people who repeat the offensive behavior even though each of them lives in a home with front and back yards where their dogs can easily poop and pee.

TRESPASS LAWS APPLY TO EVERYONE

One gal, after being asked repeatedly not to come uninvited (and certainly not with her dogs) agreed to stop (while within earshot of her spouse). But unable to take no for an answer, returned twice again “demanding to assert her dog’s right to shit on private property.” Our response was, “Your dog has no right to shit where it wants – you’re its owner. You hold and guide its leash. Your dog will go wherever you take it.” She showed up again the next day but avoided confrontation by taking her dog to an adjoining neighbor’s property, having it defecate there and enjoyed trespassing that adjoining property instead. It’s a perfect example of “willful” trespass.

With the facial recognition software available to law enforcement today, it would take very little time before the person walking the dog (or the dog itself) is identified.

Dog walkers and dog walking services can be sued individually or jointly. The dog owner may ultimately wind up paying the dog walker’s and the dog walking business’s legal fees for violating trespass laws.

Dog Etiquette specifies not to take pets on private property!

The act of trespassing does not require the property owner to stop the trespasser to discuss “whether or not” the trespasser violated the property on purpose or by mistake – it does not matter. The property owner’s recorded image or a video of the person trespassing speaks for itself.

CRIMINAL VERSUS CIVIL TRESPASS

Anyone walking a pet on private property that does so in spite of the signage, has already entered the wrong side of the law. You can easily be charged with criminal trespass or civil trespass and you should learn the difference because a property owner can charge you with either criminal or civil trespass, or both. Read the trespass law here…

The property owner need not chase you down the street or even bother to contact you. You have basically handed the authorities the evidence against yourself by willingly or carelessly trespassing.

The difference between criminal and civil trespass in the State of Florida is:

  • Criminal trespass is prosecuted by the municipality where the crime was committed, and the law is enforced by police and prosecuting attorneys. If convicted, you may face jail time, pay fines (or both).
  • Civil trespass is pursued by the aggrieved land owner, and a private citizen enforces the law by bringing a lawsuit. If you lose the lawsuit, you typically have to pay the other person money, court costs, attorneys fees and the case may not come off your record for years (if ever).

LANDSCAPING CHEMICALS ARE TOXIC TO PETS

Some people willfully continue to walk their dogs on private property even when they know the property owners don’t like it. Land owners that don’t care for dog crap have learned to chemically landscape their properties. Those compounds won’t just make your pet sick, landscaping chemicals can actually be lethal to your pet!

CIVIL OR CRIMINAL TRESPASS RECORDS ARE PERMANENT

Most people have not yet realized that many property owners with RING service have already authorized their local police departments to view their home video security systems. Many communities share their home and business security cameras with their local authorities. In Orange County Florida, the Sheriff’s Department will ask for the property owner’s permission before they view home cameras.

If you’re a home or business owner in Orange County Florida, register your private security cameras with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Imagine having a great laugh with your partner as the two of you trespass your neighbor’s property and your photographs wind up at your local police station with a civil or criminal trespass complaint filed against you or your photographs wind up in the FDLE database.

Having a civil or criminal trespass action filed against you could haunt your professional life or interrupt it entirely. Imagine a corporation offering you a management position with a huge pay raise and when they run the mandatory background check on you, that pesky trespass event shows up.

MOST PETS ARE LOCKED UP AT HOME ALL DAY

The deep-rooted guilt that the majority of “working” pet owners experience, blinds them from respecting leash laws, private property signs and even the rights and safety of children and the elderly. Unless a dog owner uses a dog walking service, dog owners leave for work every morning and usually lock their dogs in their homes where their pets remain all day – alone.

The pet owner is well aware that he or she does not properly exercise their animal as they should. When these dog owners come home from work, they want to alleviate their guilt by taking their dogs out and letting them run loose and free to poop wherever the dog wants to go.

Sadly, but realistically speaking, people who have to lock their dogs up in homes all day should not own pets at all. The guilt dog owners experience transforms a normally reasonably behaved good neighbor into an unapologetic “bad dog behavior” enabler.

Rather than apologize for their pets pooping and peeing and keeping the friendship with the landowners, by controlling their animals, some dog owners will try to stand behind an embarrassingly weak excuse to justify their trespassing behavior.

One neighbor that lived a mere block away from our property brought his dog to our property for months and I learned he had been doing that for years. I politely asked the very professional looking young man not to let his dog poop on the property anymore.

We reminded him that what he was doing was an act of trespass. He became visibly angry and let the leash out an additional 6 feet so that his dog could go poop further into the property. I told him that it was disrespectful since I had just asked him to remove the dog. He replied, “No, my dog will shit wherever he wants to. I’ll pick it up.”

If your dog can only go on grass, then keep it home on your property so your dog can go on the lawn where you live!

I explained trespass law to our trespasser and he sharply responded with “Look at my feet, I’m standing on the road. I’m not trespassing your property. My dog is trespassing. What are you going to do? Trespass my dog?” Yes, we have trespassed the human and the dog too.

While a dog is an innocent animal, some owners weaponize them to antagonize property owners that have made their wishes clear.

‘WILL YOUR EMPLOYER LIKE IT WHEN YOU FAIL DUE DILIGENCE?’

I’m not going to mention the law firm by name but I will say it is highly reputable and based in Orlando, Florida. A very promising associate being considered for a partnership had his dreams derailed by a long-forgotten trespass. His law firm partnership dreams were not dashed by a DWI or a Domestic Violence incident in college.

His dreams were derailed by his foolish, willful insistence of taking his dog to poop on his neighbor’s property after he had been repeatedly asked not to do so. As a man in his late twenties, he enjoyed antagonizing his elderly neighbor. The neighbor trespassed him.

The real tragedy of what started as a young man using his dog to annoy his elderly neighbor might have seemed a minor issue. The law firm partners however, did not give the young man his desired partnership to their law firm.

They felt that if the associate could not respect his very own neighbors’ property rights, there was little likelihood that the associate would respect the law firm’s partnership expectations once the associate settled into the partnership role.

The trespassing case had occurred way back when the associate was in college (9 years previous).

The associate had forgotten all about that trespassing incident that revealed his character flaw. That willfulness came back to bite him in the ass.

As for Killarney Drive, we will continue protecting our neighbors properties as we have always done. We will continue giving them a hand when they need tools and we will even cook them a meal when they need it. Nothing about us is changing – except our stance on trespassers (yes, both human and animals).

RESEARCH TRESPASS STATUTES, ORDINANCES OR LAWS IN YOUR COMMUNITY

When the day has ended and you are relaxed and resting, review your own surveillance footage. In that group of trespassers, through body language and verbal tone, one or two “leaders” will emerge from the pack.

You need not trespass everyone that has trespassed your property – start with the strongest “leaders.”

Turn your video footage over to your local law enforcement authorities. What the authorities need are photos identifying your trespasser clearly and his or her dog (leashed or not) on your property.

Ask yourself “why” you are doing something to your neighbor that you would never allow to be done to you or your property. Doesn’t your moral compass apply to your neighbors?

Do not take the law into your own hands. Your local police or sheriff’s department will enforce your local trespass ordinances. Our County Sheriff issued a trespass warning to one of our most stubborn, brazen, defiant trespassers just this week.


Note: This article gets updated regularly.