When composting goes wrong

By Annie Lane

Dear Annie: I read your column daily, but this is my first time writing to you. My issue is with our adjacent neighbors. They have two small dogs. The man picks up the dog waste and puts it in a pile at the edge of our property. When they moved in a year and a half ago, I observed that he was dumping his grass clippings in my yard and asked him not to do this. He said he was going to start a compost pile. But the dog feces are mixed in it or piled on the top of it, and it’s on the property line. I do not think he realizes that dog feces can contain bacteria that could be detrimental to his two young kids. Not quite sure what to do. They are friendly, as they wave and speak when we see them. I am not sure whether this is a vendetta about our not letting them use our land for their use. I want to be a good neighbor, but I find this very trying. Why not just throw the dog feces in the trash like the rest of the world? — Help

Dear Help: You are correct to send out an SOS regarding this issue, and help is on the way, in the form of a conversation that you must have with your neighbors. There is nothing friendly about leaving dog poop anywhere near your property, let alone on your property. They don’t sound friendly; they sound fake. You have to tell them that this is unacceptable. If they refuse to change or if they agree to do so and then continue leaving dog poop on your property line, you should tell them that you will have no choice but to contact the police. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. I’d suggest emphasizing the point you made in your letter about how their children are at risk because of their dreadful disposal system.

Dear Annie: I have been finding more family and friends with pets putting the food bowls on the kitchen counter to prepare the pets’ meals. Sometimes these meals are served in family dishes that are later washed and put back into the cupboard for family use. I’ve also noticed more people playing or touching pets and then going back to food prep or eating without washing their hands. I like animals but can no longer eat anything at these homes or in dishes they prepare and bring to gatherings. Suggestions? — Disgusted in Green Bay

Dear Disgusted: Though I don’t relish the idea of eating from the doggy dish, either, I initially thought you were being a little extreme. Then I looked into it more and found you’re correct to be so cautious.

According to veterinarian Marty Becker, “bacteria such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and leptospira, as well as some internal parasites, can be spread between pets and people. Kitchen hygiene can help keep the microscopic bugs at bay — and is especially important if you and your pets live with young children, seniors or people with compromised immune systems.” Tell these people this information in the least judgmental tone possible; share it as if it’s new information that you just discovered, too.