City Council expected to pass ordinance fining Chicagoans who don't clean up after their dog

Chicago’s City Council this week is expected to pass a new ordinance approving fines of up to $500 for homeowners who don't clean up after their dogs.

But some building owners believe the city's barking up the wrong tree with what they call the "poop patrol."

“It smells! She has like three different dogs. And she just lets them go,” said Englewood resident Carlisha Hood.

Hood says it's awful having a neighbor who doesn’t' clean up after her dogs. Northwest Side alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa says that homeowners whose yards are filled with feces should be ticketed from $50 to $500. He says his plan would also help reduce the rat population, which feeds on dog waste.

“If you do not pick up the dog excrement in your own back yard, you are creating a quality of life issues, you are feeding the rats, and therefore the city should have a tool to compel you to pick it up,” said 35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez.

Supporters of the ordinance say citations will be fairly rare. But the owners of yards like this one, which is filled with piles of poop, are likely to receive warnings and then citations.

Some landlords, however, fear they'll get stuck holding the bag, so to speak. Owen Pittman manages about 20 units around the city. 

“That would mean I would have to come to each unit every day to make sure some random person doesn't walk down the street and poop on my yard,” Pittman said.

Cherie Travis once ran Chicago's Animal Control Department. She's now a  landlord and says many more dog owners will be turned away by landlords.

“People will either move out of Chicago, or they'll surrender their dogs to animal control, and there will be a spike in owner surrenders and euthanasia,” Travis said.

South side Alderman Ray Lopez agrees. 

“What we can very well see is the unintended consequence of animals being surrendered en masse because all of sudden no one wants to deal with the fines,” Lopez said.

The bill's sponsor, however, doesn't believe pet owners will dump their dogs in the streets. But he does say they should have shown up to last week's committee meeting to raise their concerns.

The city council is expected to vote on the ordinance on Wednesday. Mayor Emanuel supports the proposal.