Community Post

Need Advice – Neighbor with garbage everywhere

Hello fellow neighbors. I have a neighbor who has two very large dogs that are confined exclusively to the backyard and bark most of the day. In addition, the dog poop is never picked up and after over a year (maybe longer) it is beginning to get pretty nasty back there. Add to that, they never cut back their plants or keep up their house at all.

OK, not expecting everyone to have a green thumb and not looking for perfection, but when it is hot out, the dog dung can get potent and the plants are so overgrown with nettles or weeds that they start to come over and get tangled into my trees and such.

I feel bad for the neighbor. She is able bodied and capable, just kind of lazy or something I think. I have offered to help her clear the mess(subtly of course), but she politely declines-I think she feels embarrassed and does not want to impose on me. A lot of my fellow neighbors are pretty harsh about her, but it is starting to become a big nuisance for me next door.

Question: Does anyone know of any city ordinances or recourse to have folks clean up after their excessive dog waste or do something about extreme overgrown backyards?

0 thoughts on “Need Advice – Neighbor with garbage everywhere

  1. Zoning regs can be addressed through the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (although it doesn’t really sound like something DPD would deal with. You can see a list of things they enforce at )

    Possible health issues (rats, animal waste) can be addressed through the King County Department of Public Health.

    You might even be able to get animal control on her back about the dog waste.

    Good luck!

  2. If the dog waste is not being picked up at all, that could definitely be an animal control issues (abuse/neglect). I’m a bleeding heart for the animals, so that’d be my first concern.

    Have you tried the direct approach with your neighbor? I know that directness is not a Seattle quality (I’m guilty of not being direct myself), but since you’ve tried the subtle approach to no effect, you might try just saying something like “I don’t want to be rude, but the smell is really bothering us – could you please do something about it?”

    I think actually approaching her directly before calling someone in would be the more neighborly thing to do.

  3. We had a really obnoxious neighbor a few houses over with three big dogs that he kept penned up in a small concrete pad. He would walk the dogs occasionally, but he would never pick up after them.

    One time one of the dogs did his business in our yard while we were sitting on the porch, and my partner (who is from the southside of Chicago, and VERY direct on occasion) asked him if he were going to pick it up, and offered him a plastic bag. He just gestured vaguely and walked away. So the partner got a shovel, picked up the dog waste, and put it in the guy’s yard

    The guy came back from the walk, saw the dog stuff, and came over. Harsh words were exchanged, and I considered hiding under the porch, ready to call 911. But after a few minutes, things were fine they shook hands, and we never had that problem again (Neighbor has since moved back to Louisiana). So sometimes the direct approach does work. :-)

  4. You might want to contact the Seattle Neighborhood Group. I see that they have a web page and workshops devoted to a Nuisance Property Program at

    SNG also facilitates the monthly East Precinct Crime Prevention Coalition meetings The EPCPC meets on the fourth Thursday of each month from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm at the Seattle Vocational Institute, 2120 South Jackson, Room 401. Each attendee has an opportunity to speak. The East Precinct’s liaison with the City Attorney’s office is usually in attendance and would likely be able to let you know what steps could be taken to improve the situation at your neighbor’s.

    Hope this helps.

  5. Whether it be over coffee or just a knock on the door, I would tell your neighbor exactly what you’ve said here. If that doesn’t go well, then I think a lot of what was provided in comments here are great resources.

  6. i would say something like ‘i don’t mean to be rude, but i think your dogs are lonely and sad. i hear them barking night and day. my friend uses the so-and-so dogwalking service and their prices are very reasonable… here’s their card.’

    i suspect the dogs themselves would be happier to be pooping somewhere else and having someone clean it up if they could say so.

    or maybe have the neighborhood band together and each chip in $5-10 towards a gift certificate for a lawn service and dog walking. that might give them the hint and cause them to keep using the service =P

  7. RE: dogs wanting to poop somewhere else… this isn’t entirely true and depends on the dog’s conditioning as well as personality. i have had several dogs that would only do their business in the backyard. as crazy as it sounds these dogs actually held it during outings until they got home… those trips could be be up to several days. on an opposite note: a friend’s jack russell, raised in NYC, would only do her business during walks despite having access to HUGE backyard now. :-)

    elmwood: if you have a concern about the conditions/health of the animals then call animal control regarding a possible case of neglect. an animal control officer will have the ability access the situation up close and take action, if necessary, or at least issue a warning. neglect is considered abuse so it’s better to have someone check it out.

    of course, none of this helps with the over grown weeds but it sounds like others have provided you with some options worth investigating.

    good luck.

  8. Call Animal Control; you may have to leave a message but give the name and address of the offender and they will get 24 hours to clean it up. We had a barking dog problem here but they never did anything about the barking but “talk” to the neighbor. The POOP got action! There apparently is an ordinance and it’s verifiable (unlike barking;they wouldn’t accept a tape). Public Health hazard.

  9. OK…I had to read the post several times to make sure it wasn’t my husband doing the posting. We have the same issue with our neighbor. But, let’s add furniture on the porch covered in tarps, mattress on the balcony and a swamp for a yard.

    Thank you for posting all of the suggestions.

  10. My doggie DEFINETLY prefers the yard…our yard. I like it this way as I hate the hand warmers.

  11. Hi all, great suggestions. Shout out to Catalina’s partner and fellow Chicagoan :). I do not believe the dogs are in serious danger. They appear to be ok, just smothered in dog poop and an extremely messy yard-which is a nuisance. I would not escalate to Animal Control just yet. I have hinted at cleaning up the yard, but I will take some advice and go the direct route and just basically make a firm offer of helping to clean up and garden (I am an avid gardener-so it is not a big chore for me). I appreciate everyone’s feedback, particularly some of the references to community resources. That is what this site is all about. Thank you all!!

  12. Thanks. But I think she is pretty broke. The best I have done is offer basic dog help while she is gone. FOr example, when it was supr hot in August I lowered a bucket of water for them over the fence. I was not certain they had enough water. I also give the dogs treats over the fence. Generally, when I offer help, she changrins out of embarrassment. I am one of the few neighbors who treat her with respect. But it is getting to a point where it is all out of control. Appreciate your suggestion.

  13. awww, that’s so sad! (her being broke and thus unlikely to afford dog walking). yeah, that’s a tough situation ’cause even if everyone did band together and pay for a dogwalking/yard care gift certificate, it wouldn’t be a long term solution if she couldn’t afford it herself in the future. but it still might be worth it, ’cause it might inspire her to request dog walking gift certificates for holiday gifts from family or something…

  14. Actually, I think you may have misunderstood. The finance issue was not around the dog walking, but more like she has bigger finance issues I believe than affording/not affording dog walking. I dont want to add to her stress, so I am looking for a win-win solution. if it were as simple as dog walking my partner or I would walk the dog, no problem. It is more a question of responsibility. The dog appears to be OK, just confined to a yard with a lot of dog poop and excessive overgrowth. I feel bad for the dog, but it appears he is OK.