Michael Gutman's dog, Wyatt, who did the doodoo that sparked a neighborhood debate.

Courtesy of Michael Gutman

If your dog poops on a walk, is it OK to throw the bag in someone else’s trash can?

After Fort Collins resident Michael Gutman posted a poll on NextDoor, the question blew up on the neighborhood chat site and in the media, including the Coloradoan.

The story goes like this: Gutman was walking his dog, Wyatt, when the pooch inevitably had to go. It was garbage day, and seeing no nearby public trash cans, Gutman tossed the bag into a neighbor’s bin.

Gutman says he made it about half a block before he saw Wyatt’s ears perk up. When Gutman turned around, the neighbor who owned the can was yelling at him.

“Hey! This isn’t your garbage can, you can’t put your garbage in here!” Gutman recalled the man saying.

Gutman shot back that it was within his right and quickly walked away to avoid escalating things.

As he and Wyatt headed home, the thought set it: "Was I in the wrong?"

When he got home, Gutman posted the NextDoor poll, and responses poured in.

Gutman says about 80 percent were OK with others using their trash cans to toss bags of dog poop. Some allow it on any occasion, while others prefer the bags be deposited before the trash is picked up, so the bin doesn't smell for days on end.

For the 20 percent who resisted the move, trespassing was a major reason. Others complained that people have incorrectly used their recycling bins.

“Having a dog and being a dog owner had something to do with it,” he added.

Will the dog doo debate tear neighbors apart? Gutman has a suggestion to address the issue.

“It really comes from the fact of consent. And it’s as basic as a sticker,” Gutman says. “If you can have a sticker that says, ‘Yes, you can put your dog’s poop bags in my can,’ I think we can solve this problem.”

Gutman found there are a variety of stickers and signs already for sale on Amazon.

The issue goes deeper than dog poo for Gutman. He thinks “crowdsourcing our trash cans” is critical if neighborhoods want to be free of all sorts of trash.

“If we as conscious citizens think about picking this stuff up, I think the next question is, ‘Where’s it going to go?’” Gutman said.