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Photo by Kathy Krinke

There are not enough places in Streeterville for dogs to do their business, says one resident.

30-Aug-20Craig Kaiser is on a mission to improve the dog relief facilities of Streeterville.

A lifelong dog owner, Kaiser was concerned about the level of dog waste in the neighborhood. While there are a few areas set aside for dogs, most of the time dogs can’t wait the three or four blocks to a relief area, Kaiser says, since they are often cooped up for hours at a time.

Craig Kaiser

Kaiser (left) has been working to get his fellow Streeterville residents involved in a grassroots effort to increase the number of dog relief areas in the neighborhood. He’s hosted neighborhood walks since 2013 – initially as a neighborhood safety walk but over the years, it’s turned into a social event and themed walks.

He’s had three dog relief themed walks, including one in early August. Kaiser hopes to emphasize the cost of the damage to landscaping and the human health impact of the dog waste to garner more support. The hope is that people will come up with real solutions as well as be galvanized to take action with the city.

New laws are needed, along with a culture shift

Alderman Brendan Reilly has required new buildings in his 42nd Ward to include dog relief areas for almost ten years but those facilities need to be maintained. And there’s the question of what to do with pre-existing buildings.

(Right) The two-acre Bennett Park opened in Streeterville on August 6, 2019, with two dog runs available to the public. It is part of the One Bennet Park residential tower on Illinois Street. Photo by Cory Dewald.

Photo by Cory Dewald

There have been efforts by the city to control pet waste. In 2016, to help reduce Chicago’s rat problem, then-mayor Rahm Emanuel and five aldermen introduced an ordinance to fine dog owners $50 to $500 for failing to pick up pet waste on private property, but the ordinance did not pass.

It’s not just about owners leaving dog waste behind; it’s about owners letting their dogs relieve themselves wherever. Kaiser says that a culture shift needs to happen alongside legislative changes. People should not let their dogs relieve themselves on the landscaping and sidewalks, he says.

One method is to try to avoid letting pets onto landscaping and grass, advises Dr. Drew Sullivan, Medical Director at Medical District Veterinary Clinic, part of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, but if dogs need to use the bathroom, they will relieve themselves.

Drew Sullivan

Kaiser is concerned about the sanitary repercussions of the waste as well as damage to landscaping.

(Left) Sullivan and his dog, Oskee.

Aside from the acidity of the urine on grass and other landscaping, health risks from dog urine and feces for humans are “pretty uncommon,” Sullivan explains, but not entirely impossible.

He suggests that enclosed dog parks or even residential buildings have policies on vaccinations and other tests as a way to safeguard both humans and other animals.

While there’s work to be done to get momentum on changing policies and mindsets, Kaiser recognizes, “dogs are here [and they] need to relieve themselves.”