Dec 02, 2020 - 0 Comments - Development -

Sky Kennels: Mounting Sanitation and Noise Issues for Pet Friendly High-Rise Multifamily Properties

Downtown America is Becoming an Open Sewer as Dog Populations Multiply in Multifamily Towers

As Americans have been moving back to the central business districts of its cities, a situation has been developing that has gone largely unnoticed except by those affected; downtown America is becoming an open sewer. In downtown areas it has become common to be met by the sight of a dog’s arched back. That is generally internalized as innocuous, as we all grew up with dogs in neighborhoods, and dogs poop and pee outside. Right? Yes, that is true, but only up to a point. As the density becomes too great, the concentration of urine and feces in the little remaining green space of downtown America is increasingly unpleasant if not unhealthy. Feces, after all, is feces. Though I think most would quickly agree with this after only a moment of thought, for any that doubt this claim, Popular Science addressed it in an article about how dog feces is essentially the same as that of humans. Ditto urine; pee is pee.

This is happening all across America as downtown populations swell. We’ve lived in numbers downtown before, but that was long ago in an era when dog ownership was not as prevalent. Back then families with kids got dogs, really for the kids as much as anything. Today young adults get dogs seemingly in lieu of kids, and young people like to live downtown. In reality, the modern family is less the varying relationships in the popular sitcom of that name, but instead young couples with dogs as their children. In concentrated areas as is increasingly the case, it makes for one smelly, germ ridden situation.

To make this point, let’s consider our fair city, America’s most tropical, Miami, where the year around warmth exaggerates the aromatic effects of open sewage. The ever more numerous multifamily buildings in its downtown area are increasingly dog friendly, with the resultant open sewage numbers becoming mind boggling and nostril overwhelming in some parts. In a 2018 article, the population in Greater Downtown Miami was estimated to be approaching 210,000. Some buildings downtown – more on that later – appear to have as many as half as many dogs as people. For illustration purposes on a city-wide level, let’s guess that there are 20% as many dogs downtown as people. That equates to 42,000 dogs. If there aren’t that many now – I truly can’t say for sure – there will be, and then later more. With that assumption, here is what that adds up to in total excrement:

42,000 Dogs (assumed)
x 20 pound average weight
x 15 midpoint of 10 to 20 ml of urine for per pound of body weight per day
x 365 days per year
÷ 3,785 ml per gallon

1,215,000 +/- gallons urine per year

To put this in perspective, this would fill 90 13,500 gallon typical home swimming pools.

Mind boggling, right? Walk around and notice the smell, particularly in any patch of green space near any dog friendly building in downtown. That smell, the one like that in stairwells in public transit stations, is the result.

Then there is the feces. Again, let’s pick on tropical Miami as an example:

42,000 dogs (assumed)
x 0.75 pounds of feces per day for the average dog
x 365 days per year

11.5 million +/- pounds of feces dropped per year


In the above calculation, note that I use a daily feces per dog amount of 0.75 pounds. That comes from a document about clean water which further notes that a single average dog’s feces contains 7.82 billion bacterial coliforms each day. The article goes further – you know how those these silly clean water types can be – to note the general and significant health risks of dog feces. Thought I’d drop that in.

An astute reader, particularly if partial to dogs, will note that most feces is picked up by owners. That is generally true. Regardless, the residual feces smear left each time a dog defecates, visibly obvious to anyone that looks where dog has poop has just been removed, is significant enough to make the point. For the following, we’ll assume that a mere 1/4 of an ounce, a bit more than a teaspoon, of feces dropped remains, on average, per defecation, sometimes more for those with “digestive issues,” sometimes less.

42,000 Dogs (assumed)
x 0.25 oz. of residual feces per defecation
x 2 defecations per day
÷ 16 oz per pound
x 365 days peryear

479,000 pounds +/- of residual feces left on downtown Miami greenspace per year

That aforementioned astute reader that loves dogs would perhaps point out that “insects and microorganisms consume it,” perhaps noting this as natural and good, Whole-Foods-like. I would not entirely disagree with the point, but I would note that there is a term for such: open sewer. If one deranged person poops at the bus stop, it is a clean up issue, but if everyone poops outside, it is an open sewer. The point? It is not the act that makes it an open sewer, it is the density. Ditto for dogs.

Also, and I think worse, dog owners sometimes allow their dogs to defecate and urinate on their balconies. This causes urine and feces to drip down not only on other units, but into the swimming pools, hot tubs, and other common facilities located below. “is that rain?” “Er, no.”

There is also the issue of the fecal and urination accidents in elevators and hallways, frequently left by entitled owner types “for the little people to clean up.” Again, do the math. Assume, in a building with 200 dogs, every 50th time a dog is taken out to relieve itself, there is an accident. Well, with 200 dogs going out 2 x per day, this would mean 8 accidents in elevators, per day, nearly 3,000 a year! Residents of dog friendly buildings will tell you that calculation matches their experience.

Then there is the incessant barking, like a giant kennel cage in the sky. Woof. Everywhere, always, woof. The sounds of the sky kennel.

Anyone considering visiting a dog friendly building with small children, anyone elderly, anyone undergoing chemotherapy, or anyone with a compromised immune system would be well served to look up campylobacter. People don’t realize that dogs are carriers of bacteria that can make people ill. Outbreaks attributable to dogs, like this one, likely go undetected all the time. Common sense would indicate that staying away from a place where dogs urinate and defecate several hundred times per day in a small area, aka an open sewer, might make sense for anyone with any immune deficiency, but people don’t think of this. Other wonderful things transmitted by dog feces, as noted by DoodyCalls (great name, right?), include whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, parvo, corona, giardiasis, salmonellosis, and cryptosporidiosis. Also, some of these can be found in swimming pools. Thus, if you find yourself ill in the days after swimming in the pool of a high rise, the culprit may have been above you in the buildings sh#tmist, the residue swept or washed off of the balconies of dog owners that have their mutts poop and pee on their balconies. Pleasant, right? Brings to mind the old expression “don’t eat where you sh#t.”

Americans criticize developing countries for open sewage ditches, for living among their feces. Are we not doing the same thing? Though open sewage and consequent hookworm epidemic is increasingly seen as an issue in America’s poorer areas, are we not inviting the same issues into our downtown areas at large? Why would we do that?

This is all seemingly a byproduct of zoning code or other laws that are not clearly applicable or perhaps are even ignored. It seems to not at all. Zoning or other rules tend to limit dogs per acre in residential areas unless you are a kennel, and high-rise residential buildings are not registered as kennels. In Florida, one cannot own more than four dogs on properties under an acre. The reason for such limits has to do with sanitation and noise, health and quality of life issues. What is to be done, however, for a property that has hundreds of dogs per acre, but spread over multiple floors.

What can you do?

Bring it up in local government meetings. Email, write, or fax your local government officials. This is a growing issue, but few at the moment are vocal about it. Your voice is needed. Here in Miami, those aggrieved or just with something to say about it might contact their local Miami commissioner Ken Russell, their mayor Francis Suarez, and the city of Miami’s zoning department to ask why they allow open sewage in downtown Miami.

Also, vote with your pocketbook by not moving into a dog friendly building. Let management know why you are not moving there. Post comments about all this issue on social media and in building reviews. You’ll be helping others avoid nuisance and inconvenience they’ll otherwise not notice until it is too late.

Note there are canine population assumptions in this post that are only that, assumptions. Though I’ve tried to use numbers that are reasonably representative of reality, I can’t be sure as to the exact population numbers. 

Related Posts:

There are numbers of related posts linked to in this post. If you need more, check out some of these:

Zoonotic Diseases in Dogs
Is Pet Waste Harmful to Humans? Diseases From Dog Poop
Zoonoses: The Diseases Our Cats and Dogs Give Us
Exposure to Animal Feces and Human Health: A Systematic Review and Proposed Research Priorities
Dog droppings pose a health risk
11 Ways Your Beloved Pet May Make You Sick
Diseases From Animals: A Primer
Miami Is the Nation’s Best City for Dog Owners
Miami Ranked the Best City to Be a Dog in the U.S.
Solving The Pet Pee Needs In An Urban High-Rise Apartment