Downtown Dumping, Dog-Style

Is a businessman's problem a preview of the poop ahead?

"I don't think there's enough people downtown yet to warrant a law about this," said Smith, who relocated three years ago from suburbia.

Thompson and Anastasia, a miniature champagne poodle, are Houston House residents themselves, but he said too many neighbors were ignoring common decency with their dogs in front of his office.

"It's embarrassing to have one of your clients ask for a tissue after they've stepped in some dog business; what do you say after that?"

Thompson understood that the occasional dog relieving itself in front of his offices was no big problem. But, when the excrement situation turned to extremes, so did he. His allegations about the source of the crap are circumstantial -- Thompson said animal control workers rounded up strays in the area, so he is convinced the culprits are companions of the apartment residents.

Houston House manager Sandy Bodman bristled at Thompson's allegations as well as his letter.

"I've been in property management for over 20 years and I've never seen something like this happen; the letter was deplorable," she said. "He doesn't even know if it's our pets that are doing this."

Bodman issued her own follow-up letter to residents, saying most pet owners there are great. She guaranteed that the complex would not allow future annoying letters such as the one by Thompson.

"You have to know Bill to understand the letter," Thompson's neighbor Smith said. "Many people were outraged over it because it sounded accusatory and kind of threatening, but Bill was just upset ... I don't blame him about the letter. I'd have a problem if the mess was on my steps too."

Common sense is the ultimate solution, say Bodman and Pyle-Dallas. Thompson says there are still unwelcome daily dog deliveries around his business, but the problem has diminished somewhat.

In what may become a sign of the times for downtown's future, he has resorted to what the Houston House already has done along its front shrubbery: Thompson posted placards -- universally understood by humans if not canines -- warning that the property is a designated poop-free zone.

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