North Hills Village approves strict dog waste pickup law

North Hills Village Hall, shown on July 2,

North Hills Village Hall, shown on July 2, 2012, is located on Shelter Rock Road. Photo Credit: Arielle Dollinger

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North Hills Village pet owners now must "promptly" clean up dog waste -- even on their own property -- but residents questioned the government's ability to enforce the new law.

The board of trustees voted 5-0 Wednesday night to approve an animal nuisance law that requires pet owners to quickly clean up waste on public and private properties, including in their own yard.

"Do you intend to hire a pooper patrol to go through the village and make sure that this ordinance is enforced?" resident Gerald Scharfman asked at the board meeting. "Because if you don't, I don't know how in the world it's going to be enforced."

Mayor Marvin Natiss suggested residents may keep an eye on pet waste protocol for the village. "I can't believe what people catch on an iPhone, whether it's by video or photograph, and then submit it," he said. "We have to play this in some way as we see it happening, because the concept is to be neighborly, to be a good neighbor. If there are enough complaints in a particular community, we may very well have to send in a pooper inspector."

The code change requires prompt pickup on "any property" and Natiss said that applies to the pet owner's own yard. The law did not define "promptly."

"Whether promptly is immediately, that night, the next day, I can't answer that because that will be a question of interpretation," Natiss said. Animal advocates have called the North Hills law unusual and overly intrusive.

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Other villages and the Town of North Hempstead don't specifically regulate animal waste in individual yards, although town officials said sanitation codes may apply, including a section that requires properties to be kept free from "unsanitary conditions."

The North Hills law grew from a dispute between neighbors over cleanup of dog waste in yards.

Fines for failing to pick up promptly would be $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second, and $200 for the third, Natiss has said.

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