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Marks: No dogs were too many in ped mall

BY GUEST OPINION | DECEMBER 06, 2012 6:30 AM

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This is the way the world ends: not with a bang but a whimper, a growl, and a yippy bark.

Doubtless many residents of Iowa City were elated to discover that the oft-maligned ban against dogs on the Pedestrian Mall has been lifted; the days of darkness are over, justice is unleashed. But before we start scheduling “Dog Week,” let’s take a moment to consider the looming discomfort, unpleasantness, and potential catastrophe that is about run wild in the streets.

I will be honest and confess that I am one of those horrible people who dislike dogs. Don’t get me wrong: The thought of living with a needy animal that slobbers all over the place after licking its genitals sounds awesome — I just don’t think I can handle it. However, we should look past my bias and all admit that a bunch of dogs on the Ped Mall will act like a bunch of dogs: loud and stupid.

I don’t know very much about dogs, but I do know that they like sniffing things; I also know from watching Homeward Bound that even when one of them telepathically tells another that what they are sniffing is dangerous, they’ll still sniff it, porcupine needles or no.

It’s that thing called instinct, that esoteric force that makes their ears stand up and their fangs gleam whenever something strange is in the air. There is a plethora of very strange odors on the Ped Mall, not to mention chipmunks, squirrels, and pigeons: animals that have not had to worry about predators until now, animals that are even more stupid than dogs. When the fur and feathers start flying, the quaint little bricks splattered with blood and guts, I’ll be the first to say, “I told you so” — because I’m telling you so right now.

There is an obvious and instant rebuttal: There are clear rules about leashes and where dogs may roam. True enough; but there are also clear rules about smoking, drinking, littering, and crossing the street in Iowa City. And if there’s one thing the majority of the population has proved over the last several years, it’s that we really don’t care about rules that we think are stupid.

So, while perhaps a small number of dog owners will get out their measuring tapes to ensure their leashes are under 6 feet, while many will be alert as they stroll with their pets downtown, and while I’m sure the police will allocate funds and officers specifically to ensure compliance — I’m ultimately doubtful.

Of course, most obvious and prominent of concerns is mounds of feces speckling the ground. Dogs are a rather unashamedly public bunch — they’ll do pretty much anything anywhere. We already must avoid ginkgo berries, vomit stains, Panchero wrappers, and pigeon droppings. I’d prefer not adding to the list.

The City Council clearly thought about this as well; apparently we can look for “receptacles” in the near future. But again: How many people do you think are actually going to pick up after their dogs? And even if they all did, there’d still be the fact that people are walking around with bags of sh*t.

If the City Council is as concerned with reinvigorating downtown as the councilors claim, is it a good idea to have bins labeled “dog poop here?” And where exactly would these “receptacles” be located?

What business (besides Brothers) would allow a box full of excrement anywhere near it? And if it were OKfor a dog to go on the Ped Mall, what would be the justification for preventing its owner from doing so as well? Are some turds better than others?

We are faced with Pandora’s dog: the City Council seems content in letting it loose. This ordinance smells of misplaced and contradictory priorities. Over the last five years that I have lived in Iowa City, I have witnessed the slow creep of gentrification into downtown, the rowdy and the indigent pushed out, the establishment of numerous yogurt and cupcake shops, the forthcoming Moen Plexiglas Monolith, some of which brought improvement, some of which was regressive.

This ordinance is decidedly the latter: Bad dogs!

Jesse Marks
UI alumnus


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