OLDSMAR — So you think no one noticed what your dog just did?
Would you be willing to bet $88?
Oldsmar City Council members are poised to adopt an ordinance at their meeting Tuesday that they hope will encourage dog owners to pick up after their pooches.
The measure would authorize an $88 fine if they don't.
A sheriff's deputy or a city code enforcement officer would have to witness the entire sequence of events: from finding the right spot to moving away from the evidence.
St. Petersburg already slaps pet owners who don't clean up after their dogs with an $88 fine, the minimum penalty allowed by the Sheriff's Office.
If the ordinance passes, as expected, dog walkers should stock up on bags or have their excuses ready. Enforcers will have the option to issue a warning instead of a fine, depending on their judgment and the circumstances of the infraction.
At an earlier council meeting, the vote went 3-2 in favor of the fine.
"I'm on the minority on that vote — I don't lose many — but that's one I'm going to lose," said Mayor Jim Ronecker, who has a golden retriever, a Yorkie, a big back yard and bags at the ready when they infrequently go for walks. Vice Mayor Eric Seidel also opposed the fine.
Ronecker said he has never received a complaint about dog owners before and thinks the fine will have little value as a deterrent.
"I think it's a waste of resources for the sheriff's department," he said. "They are going to have to witness the act firsthand."
He wants residents to know they can't call the police or enforce the ordinance themselves.
"Code enforcement can do it," he said. "But then what are the odds that they are going to roll up just at the right time?"
Kidding aside, he said, he will support the council's majority vote.
Council member Suzanne Vale, who owns a Doberman and a beagle, said everyone is always complaining to her. So she picks up after other dogs as she walks hers in Oldsmar parks.
She has brought up the complaints at council meetings.
"I'm an animal lover, an absolute animal fanatic," Vale said. "I don't like being punished for the actions of a few."
She said it's a way to educate people, and if you don't learn, you could be fined. The proposal has given Ronecker and Seidel a few laughs, she said, but she tells them: "Laugh all you want. It's having good manners and courtesy for others."
Theresa Blackwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4170.