A Mysterious Vigilante Is Planting Messages on Dog Poop in LA · The Wildest

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A Mysterious Vigilante Is Planting Stern Messages on Dog Poop Around LA

Clean up after your dog — or this elusive Banksy-type will have something to say. 

by Sio Hornbuckle
January 31, 2024
Corgi puppy on a leash from a woman.
fotografixx / iStock

There’s always some neighbor — or maybe several neighbors, if you’re unlucky — who refuses to pick up after their dog when they do their business. Ew. No one likes that. Most of us have, at some point, have probably wished we could chase down the perpetrator and give them a talking to. 

For the past few weeks, a mysterious source in the Venice neighborhood in Los Angeles has been doing the next best thing. Someone — no one knows exactly who — has been leaving messages on tiny white flags planted in abandoned dog feces…and they’re not gentle words. 

The case of the vigilante poop flag planter

Residents of Venice started spotting white flags on the ground a few weeks ago, The Guardian. The flags weren’t planted in just any patches of dirt, though; they were fixed to piles of dog feces — and they had Sharpie-scrawled messages.

“Lazy,” says one flag shared by The Guardian. “Who raised you?” asks another. “Get therapy,” one advises. One flag simply reads: “No.” 

Will Inbusch, a resident of Venice, told the publication that he supports the mysterious perpetrator. “I’m a big fan,” he said. “No one wants to see a bunch of dog poop everywhere.”

The flags serve a functional purpose, too: One postal worker told the Guardian that they’ve actually stopped her from stepping in dog poop on her route. 

First, locals thought one home or business owner was responding to poop left in their yard — but then they realized the flags were popping up all over the neighborhood, with no real rhyme or reason. As for who’s behind the flags, the leads are slim. “Just someone with a good sense of humor and solid handwriting,” Inbusch told The Guardian.

Some locals wonder if it’s a coordinated effort by a group of people. Others think it may have started with one person, but the trend caught on. Clare Ramsey, another resident who spoke to The Guardian, even proposed that it could be a marketing campaign. “Is it some brand? Is it someone just looking for notoriety?” she asked.

Seriously, though: Clean up your dog poop

Their methods are odd, but the mysterious messenger has a very good point. Leaving dog poop outside isn’t just rude to your neighbors, it’s also bad for the environment. “The high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous in feces can actually throw off the balance and biodiversity of plant communities,” Emma Loewe, an environmentalist and the author of Return To Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us, wrote for The Wildest last year. “The plants that the poo ends up near will rapidly absorb its nitrogen and use it to outgrow its neighbors, potentially causing plant species loss.”

Dog poop left unattended outside will eventually make its way to water, she added. “Once waste is washed into the water system, its high nitrogen and phosphorus can spur the growth of algae that’s toxic to fish and other critters. Pet waste is a surprisingly large contributor to ‘dead zones’ — areas where algae blooms have used up available oxygen and blocked sunlight on the surface, making the water below inhospitable.”

Plus, dog waste carries a bunch of bacteria, including parasites and antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. “While the likelihood of a disease passing from dog poop to person is relatively rare, it does happen,” Loewe wrote. “Children, people with weak immune systems, and older folks are particularly at risk, and leaving dog poop in heavily trafficked areas, like city sidewalks, increases the likelihood of transmission.”

Not to mention, no one wants to step in dog poop. So, whether you’re a fan of the LA poop vigilante or find them a little gross, we have to admit the cause is noble. People really should clean up dog poop. That said, we’re not sure the tiny flags are much better for the environment — and we hope the culprit’s wearing gloves.  

Sio Hornbuckle

Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.

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