Who Let the Dogs Out?

NEWPORT CITY – Who let the dogs out? That’s the question three downtown merchants and the Newport City Council hope to answer with the assistance of cameras that point down Main Street. The camera monitors are at the Newport City Police Department.Debi Mead from the Fabric store expressed her concerns, during Monday night’s council meeting, that people allow their dogs to use Main Street as a bathroom. Where the dogs are actually coming from is unknown, but the merchants believe some of the owners may live in the apartments above their shops.Mead said feces was tracked into her store. She also reminded the council that tracking feces into restaurants is a health code violation.Mead has spoken with Doug Spates of Memphremagog Rentals, the tenants who live in the Main Street apartments, Mayor Paul Monette, the police and City Manager John Ward, Jr. It’s gotten to the point where people walking on Main Street warn other walkers of the droppings, Mead said.“Everybody is very aware of this,” said Mead. “When dogs are destroying somebody’s livelihood, that’s just totally unacceptable.”There is one man who washes the sidewalk after his dog relieves itself, Mead said.Mead expressed concerns that the droppings keep shoppers away from her side of the street.Merchants have discussed installing video cameras to help identify the dog causing the problem. They also considered providing bag dispensers. The true solution, said Mead, is for the council to make a resolution that says the city doesn’t allow dogs in apartments above businesses. Mead said she personally picked up some of the waste, put it in plastic bags and threw it in the trash. She also acknowledged that the Public Works Department also picked up some of the waste.“Nobody should have to do this,” she said. “If you have a dog you should be responsible for your dog and not cause everybody else to either lose business, lose merchandise and have health issues.”Alderman Richard Baraw said resolutions don’t mean much and asked if the women were more interested in changing the ordinance. “What I want is the poop off the street,” said Mead. “I don’t want it there. It’s bad for my business.”The issue is primarily between just below Second Street and Central Street, Kathy McQuillen, from Farrant’s Flower Shop, said. Some dogs relieved themselves on flowers at the shop. It takes money to clean the waste off the carpets that are on the store floors, McQuillen said.The ordinance that’s in place is loose, said Baraw, who is not sure if the city can dictate what pets residents can have.“I’ll buy them a fish,” said Mead. “I don’t have a problem with that. If they want a pet, I’ll get them a fish or a bird.”Mead suggested the city have plastic bag dispensaries along Main Street.That idea, however, concerned Ward, who said the bags might encourage people to walk their dogs on Main Street. He said the city already has the bags along the bike path.