snooper' in the clear
By Ben Fenton
USING global positioning satellites to prove
that dogs were polluting his corner of the planet, Patrick Murphy has
catalogued 661 reasons to tread cautiously on his local school playing
For instance, 40deg 1min 41sec N, 105deg
16min 85sec W was a good place to avoid on March 4, when Mr Murphy conducted
his comprehensive stool survey of the 4.5-acre baseball pitch and adjacent
He was so incensed at the way dog owners
flouted the laws of Boulder, Colorado, which require them to remove evidence
of their pets' passing, that he videotaped offenders, handed the tapes to
police and demanded that they press charges.
He made more than 160 complaints in four
years. But the crusading zeal of Mr Murphy, nicknamed the "Boulder
pooper snooper", was too much for two dog owners and they brought
complaints of harassment against him.
Police had already warned Mr Murphy that his
decision to challenge James Chanin over the by-products of his two golden
retrievers came close to the legal definition of harassment.
So when he later dogged the steps of Holly
Mirabile as she returned to work after letting her pet add to the faecal
pollution of Casey Park, and then presented his videotape at a local police
station, he was arrested.
In his defence, Mr Murphy, 50, a plant
ecologist, produced his GPS chart, logging each pile of pollution to an
accuracy of 4.5 feet.
A jury speedily decided that in pursuing
Miss Mirabile he had not harassed her but merely sought to see that the
state's law was enforced.
Mr Murphy said he had made his chart not
because he was obsessed with canine excrement but to show the environmental
damage done by a growing number of dogs to plants and river banks of the
He said: "Wildlife biologists know that
if you count poop, you get a population estimate for the species."