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What are Some Ways to Ask Neighbors to Clean up After Their Pets?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are whole websites and blogs devoted to the topic of pet owners who do not clean up after pets when a dog or cat uses someone else’s property as a convenient toilet area. This is a source of frustration for non-animal owners, and for animal owners who are vigilant in cleaning up after their pets. It is not pleasant to have clean up after pets, whether you own them or not, but it is even more unpleasant to have the chore of cleaning up after pets you don’t own.

If you note that neighbors seem to allow their pets to disregard your property in this manner, then there are a few steps to take which may help. First it can help to catch the offending pet in the act, especially when an owner accompanies it. If you note your neighbor’s dog lifting a leg or getting ready for other bathroom business on your lawn, approach the neighbor. You might come out with a supply of plastic bags for this purpose, so the neighbor can immediately clean up the mess. Also, if you are concerned about damage to your lawn, you can show the neighbor areas of the lawn that have been previously damaged by the pet. Request that the owner pull the dog to the curb if it shows signs of wanting to urinate, so the dog does not do so on your lawn.

If a neighbor does not respond to your request to immediately clean up after pets, and some neighbors simply won’t, you can follow up with a letter requesting they do so, if you know the neighbor’s address. You should cite incidences, and if you have approached the neighbor before with no cooperation, you can also include photographs of the animal “in the act.” If you belong to a homeowner’s association, or even in most cities, you can also include any laws that pertain to the responsibilities of pet owners who usually must clean up after pets.

It is much more challenging to get homeowners to clean up after pets when the neighbors own cats. This is first because few homeowner leash and walk their cats, so outdoor cats are usually allowed to roam free and the world may be their litter box. Cats also can unpleasantly scent mark doors in order to maintain territory, which can cause your door or walkway to smell strongly of urine.

It may be more difficult to figure out which neighbor owns a cat, or to decide which neighborhood cats are the main offenders. It is a good idea to try to snap pictures of cats while they engage in bathroom behavior so you can definitely attribute this behavior to a specific cat, or several specific cats. Once you have a picture of the cat, you should approach the owner, and explain your problem, asking them to clean up after pets. If your request is ignored, follow up with letter, pictures and copies of any laws pertaining to owner responsibility toward animal mess.

When requests to a neighbor to clean up after pets are not honored, you can take the next step by calling Animal Control. Since you’ve documented certain animal’s behaviors through photographs and a letter, you have established a pattern of behavior. Animal Control can visit the neighbor, ticket them, and in some cases remove animals from homes. Usually they first only warn the pet owner. Should owners continue to not clean up after pets after you have involved Animal Control, you can sue the owner for allowing nuisance behavior in the animal. This is a last resort, hopefully rendered unnecessary by warnings, and tickets that have made the owner clean up after his pet.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon129980 — On Nov 26, 2010

There is balance. My neighbor just woke me up to ask me to clean up after my dog, who just pooped in *my* yard. We do not let her go into their yard and make sure it is cleaned up out of the side yard by her house. Dogs poop. Thus is life. (Sorry, just venting.)

By anon66294 — On Feb 18, 2010

There are many ways to confront these disgusting neighbors. Put a stack for poop bags on their front door, face to face, or try an online service. Then they won't really know if it was you or not.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor,...
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