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Resident Uproar Over Dog Caca on North End Baseball Fields & Parks

Scene of the Dog ‘Caca’ – Commercial Street Ball Fields – Puopolo Park and Mirabella Pool

I had not heard the word “caca” in a long time, but when I read the following message it became pretty clear. This letter sent in to neighborhood parents from Vincent Santaniello has caused an uproar through email chains and the local NEWMA Google group. The discussion started with the problems at the baseball fields at Langone and Puopolo Parks, but expanded to refer to many of the parks of the North End / Waterfront.

Dear Parents,

I know I spend much more time than most of you down at the fields. It may not seem such a pressing issue to you.  I am to the point now that I am asking you all to help me in stopping the abuse and breaking of the law by the dog owners on our CHILDREN’S baseball fields.

Sunday morning at 9AM, I was at the fields with two Cardinals (age 10) and Coach Dom had his 20 kids (ages 3-6) for his clinic.

There were a constant flow of dogs off their leases leaving CACA on ALL of the fields. When a man with a large dark brown dog and a blond woman with a small white dog came 3 feat from shortstop, I said to them, “You can’t have your dog off the lease and doing caca on the baseball fields.

The man replied IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN, “You’re the guy who gave me a hard time before, F**k you, lick my ass”. You’re not even from the neighborhood”.

I called Animal Control a few times and they finally came.

Later we moved to the field near the Mirabella and found two large piles of dog caca, only 12″ from the home team bench. I have pictures of this as well as with our 9 year old Francesca Rubini frowning on the bench.

When another woman came by us with her dog, I said “Excuse me, can I show you something?” We walked over and I showed her the the TWO PILES OF DOG CACA next to the bench. She said “I pick my dog’s up”, I said “You can’t get all of it, you have to put your dog on a lease and take it immediately off the field”. She said “Where am I suppose to take my dog?” I replied, “I don’t care. You have to take your dog off the CHILDREN’S field” or I am going to call the cops.

She said “I don’t appreciate being “accosted” ” … What is that? Another “card” to use by a selfish, entitled jerk? Is that one of the lies she’s been trained to say when the cops actually come?

My reply was “I am calling the cops. And if you have any courage, you will not take off. If you do leave, that means you know you are wrong”. The cops came, but of course she was long gone.

I am going to do my best to try to make it a $200 fine to have your dogs either on the fields or off their leases, as it is on the Esplanade. I think I might have to start with a petition signed by as many people as we can. Please help me in any way you can.

The dog owners know that the cops are very busy and they have absolutely no respect for our CHILDREN. If one single CHILD of ours gets hurt because of the holes dug by the dogs or becomes sick because of the CACA, we will be forced to take even more serious action.


Shortly after Vin’s message went out, the responses started pouring in from other North End / Waterfront residents. Here are some excerpts:

Paula said,

I would be the first to sign a petition.  The dogs are taking over the neighborhood.  I like dogs, but the amount of irresponsible owners are out of control.  They stare you down when you look to see if they pick up and then walk off without doing it!  There are large deposits on every sidewalk in our neighborhood, and many dogs off leash when some children are very afraid of them.

There is not a place in the neighborhood where you can picnic or play without dogs intruding or without sitting in yuck!  Very discouraging!

Jennifer added,

I think the best way to stop all kinds of bad behavior in this neighborhood is to keep taking pictures and posting them to Citizens Connect and  Related – I constantly wonder why two of the most scenic spaces in the neighborhood, the grass lawn overlooking the water at Christopher Columbus Park and the Prado, are used as dog parks with dogs off leash.  Besides these places and the ball fields at Langone and other places our children use, there are plenty of places that dogs can go to the bathroom and be picked up after.

Janine says,

The Defilippo Playground on Prince Street is used as a toilet for hundreds of dogs.  The signs “No Dogs” do not stop dog owners playing where our children play every day.  The dog owners have a sense of entitlement as a dog owner using a children’s playground as a toilet.  Dogs are in CVS, local bars that serve food, Post Office, Gone Bananas, Bova’s, when does the line not get crossed when it comes to public safety?  When do the children come first?

Brenda makes a suggestion,

I share the frustration with having dogs using our parks as toilets, even more so now that I have three small children. We generally do not play in the grass or sit on a picnic blanket to enjoy the shows at Christopher Columbus Park because it is just too gross. But, I think of this sort of like dealing with skateboarders – create a better space for them so that they don’t chose to go where you don’t want them. That is more likely to work than fines that are hard to enforce.

For example, (and please don’t send me nasty-grams for this hypothetical suggestion) give some or all of the back lawn at Christopher Columbus Park to the dogs – the side away from the water. Fence it in and let the dogs run free from leashes there. The owners could still have a place enjoyable for themselves where their dogs can run, and other people could regain use of the remaining grass. I would rather give up some of the park to dogs than lose all of it to them as we do now.

In my mind there are 4 main things that could help reduce the problem:

1. Nice, well set up, big designated dog run, where dogs and their
owners would chose to go rather go than the ballfields, CC Park or
playgrounds.  (any input from dog owners??)

2. Fine for dogs off leashes and/or using non-dog designated park
areas and sidewalks as toilet. (As Vin suggested)

3. Consequence for not paying fines.

4. A police officer available to target these violations – maybe at
random times to keep people on their toes without constant police

Kortney adds,

We all know this problem is out of control. It is disgusting and a shame. Sadly, I don’t feel the problem will go away as every other person has a dog. However, I think a petition (to get law enforcement to write fines) may be a good idea. If fines are written for those whose dogs are off leashes and/or on the baseball field at all people may actually stop bringing their dogs on the Baseball field. When people’s wallets get hurt things might get a little better. I do recognize there are other problems Officers are dealing with as well and can’t be monitoring the Park 24/7. I am not sure if fines are even issued for this.

Regarding the issue of Dog Parks: I live near the dog park on Richmond Street. Do you know how many times I have seen dog waste on Richmond Street and even right outside the entrance of the dog park? Why can’t people make it inside the park? What’s worse? They don’t pick it up!

Chris shares ideas and possible solutions,

Right now, a couple of bad eggs (probably not too many) think it’s acceptable to let their dog relieve itself on the ball fields where the kids play. On a few occasions over the past couple of years, I have picked up dog/human (believe it or not) feces from the dugout areas to make them useable, so there’s definitely some wrong stuff going on down there.

In East Boston, where my family is from, I’ve volunteered on a lot of open space and parks issues. We’re working on similar problems and realizing that we need to get the community involved in looking for as many creative solutions as we can find:

Among the solutions we’ve looked at for dog issues:

Community Intervention:
Getting residents talking to each other about the problem…

Increase Awareness:
From what I can see, everyone in the North End loves their parks and fields and people would want to support an effort to cut the crap that’s going on down there. A newspaper article could help.

More signage:
More signs can reinforce the message that people care a lot about this. Signs can be added both at the field and along the streets that lead to the fields…

Poop bag dispensers:
Where a problem like this is bad another response is to make doing the right thing not only normal, but easy. Dog poop dispenser systems are cheap, easy to install and easy to use. Putting two or three of them at each park would help… Here’s a link to one such device:

Police intervention:
Police can’t be there all the time, the BPD is always looking to do more community based policing, so maybe the NEAA can get them to swing by during off times and just take a peek onto the fields. I doubt the police would be asked to f— off and to lick any posteriors…

Build a dog park:
Is there a need for a dog park? If people feel a need to let their dogs run off leash, can we give them a place to do it? I don’t know enough about the nooks and crannies of open space, but I know there are sometimes opportunities… and if it’s important enough, maybe some options… Google Earth is free and very helpful… Are there any spots that aren’t too near residences that could be a good place for a dog park?

Dog parks are very popular and can even be neighborhood amenities. They are also a good place to socialize dog owners about how to behave.

19 Replies to “Resident Uproar Over Dog Caca on North End Baseball Fields & Parks

  1. While I understand and agree w many of the points posted here I think efforts would be better served helping each other rather than creating a hostile environment between dog owners and non-dog owners.

    Why not work together as a community to create a space for dog owners to take their pets? A community efforts makes for a better community. It seems like a win-win for all.

    Unfortunately there will always be irresponsible pet owners but working with the majority of those (who are responsible) will make the offenders stand out. Fining people will only push the problem from the ball field to another location, and then the cycle will start over.

  2. Dogs that live indoors most of their life are generally not healthy to begin with. All dogs occasionally get gastro-intestinal disruptions, especially sedentary city dogs. How does even a responsible dog owner effectively clean up after a dog with diarrhea that craps on the grass? It is not possible. And owners cannot predict this.

    I have spoken with Sal LaMattina more than once about getting NO DOGS ALLOWED ON THE GRASS signs put up at the Greenway and all other grass areas in the city. Apparently this Health and Human Safety issue is not high on the City Council’s agenda.

    One dog owner whined that there are no signs prohibiting dogs crapping on the grass at the Greenway when we told her to take her defecating pooch from beside our picnic blanket. Apparently she and others who take their dogs on the grass need a sign to explain common sense, common courtesy, Biology 101, and the fact that they are not the only ones who matter on this earth.

    Unfortunately the phrase ‘Curb your dog’ has lost any meaning or importance to those who think it is OK to spoil our neighborhood. That includes dogs urinating on the sidewalk, buildings, bicycles, baby carriages, shoes, and street furnishings. We all must use the sidewalk. Those who don’t avoid even urine track it into the home. It’s disgusting.

    The answer is easy: No dogs on grass areas. Ever. Period. Dogs must do their business in the gutter and their owners must pick up after them. Enough signs at lawns and on posts stipulating this, along with a $1,000 fine that is even occasionally enforced would make a difference.

  3. I debated writing because this is a regular dispute that occurs in the North End and one that to date has never found a solution. It often becomes a time for name-calling and generally engenders hatred that together work against us as at community. First and foremost, I want to thank the parents who were able to pose solutions to the problem such as a dog park. We all live in this community and care for it. Last year when parents in the neighborhood petitioned for the Eliot school to make more room for children, it was dog owners without children that helped rally and petitioned as well. Last week, I was at a university graduation where an Imam and Pastor from Nigeria were awarded honorary degrees. One man was higher up in the army and in fact had killed the other’s family in the war. However, with forgiveness and rational communication, the two now work as a team to create peace and have done so with great success. I was struck by their story and saddened then just days later to see a community fighting over poop and doing so in a way that is counter to peace and community. I support blocking off space for dogs behind the Ice rink and am against not picking up after a dog. I would also encourage us to work as a community on this issue because historically, the alternative of creating “us” and “them” has worked against both parties.

  4. the community has tried to get dog owners to be responsible for over a decade. Maybe a nice fat fine will give the offfenders a much needed attitude adjustment. Just like the fines for putting out trash at the wrong time have resulted in many property owners doing a better job of educating their tenants. SOrry but hitting people in their wallets works. There was an opportunity a decade ago (when Christopher Columbus Park was being redone) to put a fenced in area in the back lawn between TIAs and Atalntic Ave. The “responsible” dog owners from the waterfront blocked it then and I suspect will do it again. People who live at the opposite end of the neighborhood want one of the baseball fields as a dog park. Is that reasonable? Or the really lazy ones like to let their dogs run in the fenced in tot lot in the Gassy. SOOOOOOOOOOOOO considerate.

  5. As a new dog owner in the North End, I am very disheartened by the neighborhood’s reaction. Basically the main issue at stake here is personal responsibility. It’s irresponsible dog owners who have created a bad reputation for dog owners like myself who take great pride in being good neighbors, picking up after my dog and keeping my dog on leash.

    I’ve learned very quickly that it’s NOT easy being a dog owner in the North End. The closest fenced in dog park is over 2 miles away (Peter’s Park). During the summer months there seems to be no grassy area to bring our pets. We have a beautiful greenway, the Christopher Columbus Park, softball fields and lots space along the water, yet there’s no place for families with dogs to play and be outside. The space on Richmond Street designated for dogs is an complete disgrace. Tiny, dirty and even dangerous (because of the deteriorated fencing) I wouldn’t even consider bringing my dog inside.

    To top it off, I was recently cursed at by a man for letting my dog poo on the street, even though he watched me have a bag in hand and immediately pick it up. He lectured me that children walk on this street!! So please tell me, WHERE DO YOU WANT US TO GO? I hate that some dog owners don’t pick up after their dogs, just as much as you all do, but there are a lot of people in the North End who ARE RESPONSIBLE and are at their wits end trying to figure out a safe, acceptable place to go with their dogs. I’m open to suggestions and helping out any way I can!

    1. I love dogs…but the answer to people’s dog problems is…you need to live in the suburbs…cities and dogs simply do not mix. Had a dog all of my life until I moved to the city. It’s not fair to the animal to be shut in in a small North End apt 90% of the day and then when they are let out, have to be confined to such tiny patches of land. .

      You see dog excrement in the streets and on the grass and all owners are suspects…that’s just the way it is.

      1. You could say the same thing the other way. If you want to live in an area where you have plenty of space and dozens of baseball fields to chose from with no dogs, move to the suburbs. I grew up in a suburb and the reason you never see dogs on a baseball field is because they have other areas for the dogs.

        Dogs in the North End are here to stay, end of discussion on that. Either they create a legal place or we continue to “break the law” and there is nothing that will change that.

        Jaywalking is also a crime, how’s the enforcement on that coming along?

        1. Its attitudes like yours: F&%# you I am keeping my dog get used to it I don’t care about your kids health and welfare that makes it impossible to come to some agreement. Why don’t you move back to the suburbs with your dog.

        2. Here’s the issue…I HAVE adapted. I don’t own a dog any longer because it was not fair TO THE DOG. That’s how I adapted.

          I love living in the city but a dog park is not going to make irresponsible people more responsible. The ones that are responsible will continue to pick up after their dogs and the ones that are not will continue to deface the neighborhood. Both on it streets and in its parks.

          I agree that there’s no easy answer and the start of some sort of a solution is some public discourse.

          1. Thank you! That is the most humane thing for people to do.

            A guy across on Sheafe left for the weekend and left his dog in his apartment for the whole weekend. Since the dog was barking, concerned neighbors called the police to is if the owner was ok. IT was the dog who turned out not to be ok. The owner was just fine, when he finally returned home and despite a weekend bag claimed he had just gone out that night.

  6. Dear Anja Potter,

    You should be ashamed of yourself to use the story of the family’s involved in the army.

    We are talking about a baseball field and other playgrounds for children. Balls and children roll in a baseball field.

    1. Our interests are in protecting our CHILDREN, by not having dog dug holes and caca on THEIR fields.

    2. Your interest is in having the most pleasant experience you can in your chore of exercising your dog and not having your dog doing caca inside your house.

    Between your responsibilities in caring for your ANIMAL and ours for our CHILDREN, there is no compromise.

    Dogs are not allowed on fields, courts or playlots. It is also a state law that dogs must be leashed at all times.

  7. I spoke with the head of Maintenance for the Parks Department. He has reviewed both baseball parks and will be putting up additional signs with Park Rules and No Dogs allowed on the fields or something similar.

    Here are the rules:

    Dogs are not allowed on fields,courts or playlots. It is also a state law that dogs must be leashed at all times.

    They are willing to put up the Doggie Bag dispensers, however someone will need to adopt them and be willing to be the contact to keep replacing the bags when the box is emptied. They will supply the bags.

    Steven Passacantilli of Councilor LaMattina’s Office will contact Sgt. Lema. I will follow up as well.

    We will do our best to stay on top of this but it will come down to enforcement.

    Thanks for all of your help.

    John Romano
    NEAA Baseball Coordinator

    NOTE: The Greenway is not under the jurisdiction of the City of Boston Parks Department. The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy is in charge of the care and custody of the Greenway!

    1. You what’s worst – people allow their dogs to poop and pee on the burial grounds at Copp Hill. I’ve seen it several times.
      It may only matter if those dogs owners who feel entitled to have their dogs poop and peed any where they chose actually suffer legal consequences.
      Signs, unfortunately are not going to stop them.

  8. You can put up 1,000 signs and it’s not going to change the problem. The only real solution would be to zone a part of CCP as dog friendly. Anything less then that would not change people’s behavior.

    The reality is any dog fine would need to be over a few hundred dollars for the city to even cover the cost of the fine should the individual argue the ticket. It wouldn’t make fiscal sense for the cops to be able to enforce it. No way the city would be able to fine you enough for it to be enforced. You can thank the unions for that.

    I agree the dogs should not be playing on the baseball fields, but there are many rules being broken in the North End. Similar to for instance, the double parking outside the baseball and softball fields. Why no tickets every night? It’s creating a danger for joggers, kids, cyclists, etc. Yet, I’m guessing John Romano and others think it’s okay to bend the law to let parents park there illegally to watch the ball games?

    Unless they open a dog friendly place in the North End that meets the dog owners liking (i.e. – The Richmond dump is not an option, it’s CCP or nothing), the problem will continue to exist and people on both sides of the issue will never agree. Enforcement of dogs going to the bathroom is a fool’s solution, it won’t work and it hasn’t worked. The only viable solution is a compromise. And it’s unlikely the city will change this until Menino is gone.

  9. The North End needs a dog park. We had parcel space to do that, but something is being built across from the Archstone Apartments. It is entirely inappropriate to poop a dog on grass where people of any age walk or sit. It is an act of such utter selfishness. Worse than that, the people doing it on the field are trying to avoid pick up duty. I also feel it is unfair to many breeds to be pent up in an apartment all day, though I know those with active breeds are typically runners. Vin received a very cooperative response from John Romano. I hope that goes somewhere. I know many god lovers like myself and dog owners who would never consider pooping their dogs on grass, let alone a baseball field used by school-aged children. It’s a complete slap to the face of civilization itself. And such a marker of bad character.

    1. I hear you Brian, but I think you are going over board a bit by saying it’s “a slap in the face of civilization itself.” Really, come on man it isn’t any thing close to that. In fact it is that type of exaggerated comments which makes it hard to come to a resolution on this matter.

      The fact is that dog owners are tax payers as well and that they also have a right to own a pet. I agree that they don’t have a right to be disrespectful, but they do have a right to have their voices heard just like you do.

  10. I have been a poop scooping dog owner almost all my 64 yrs and I do agree that this is an extremely important issue. I would like to say that I agree with people who say that name calling and other juvenile behaviors are useless, even potentially dangerous and solve nothing. I would also like to call attention to the benefits of dog ownership. Dogs walk the blind safely wherever they need to go. There are two new pups to be working at Spaulding Rehab as therapy dogs. Dogs lower blood pressure, keep the elderly company, they have been known to bring adults and children as well out of coma. They love unconditionally! And I know everyone read about the pit bull Lilly who dragged her unconscious owner off the railroad tracks in shirley Ma, thus savng the woman’s life! And this cost Lilly the loss of a leg, a broken pelvis and a de-gloved paw! So please let us not stoop to the name calling and cursing at eachother that will only exacerbate an already complicated issue and can lead to serious trouble as this is an issue that inspires extreme emotions both pro and con. Bottom line, the North End needs a dog park! It is a wonderful warm and friendly neighborhood and more and more folks are moving in with their companion animals. So lets work together to find a solution and stop blaming the one innocent in all of this….the dogs! Take a walk around the block on any night before trash collection. All that disgusting, filthy rodent filled garbage that litters North End streets is not put there by dogs. So abslutely, fine people that break laws, but please offer responsible dog owners like myself and many of my friends support in finding sensible alternatives. thanks for your time Emilia and Rudy

  11. I am currently not a dog owner, but a lover of dogs and soon to have my own while living in the North End. I too find it disgusting to walk down the street and see dog caca, especially when I step in it.
    I certainly agree with some of the posts and comments listed here about working together as a community to solve the problem, a dog park would certainly be a good idea to create a space for the dogs to play. Also maybe having doggie poo-bag dispensers placed in common dog walking areas throughout the north end? This way if a dog does do its business in a field at least the owner has no excuse not to pick it up.
    It seems as though more community outreach is needed for the folks in the north end who do not read this website. Also we all need to act like adults and treat one another with respect when it comes to this issue- dog owners and parents alike, its the only way this issue is going to be resolved.

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