Jean-Paul Villere: Dig dogs? Time to obey

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A sign at Coliseum Park reminds dog owners of laws requiring them to keep their pets leashed and pick up after them. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for

A sign at Coliseum Park reminds dog owners of laws requiring them to keep their pets leashed and pick up after them. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for

Jean-Paul Villere

I am a cat person, but we remain feline less for the moment.  My oldest developed an allergy recently, and I chose my offspring over my rat decapitator we had had since a wee kitten rescued post-K, all mangy and feral.  Not a tough call, but have you ever been brought a headless rodent with its noggin neatly next to its lifeless body?  It’s impressive.  And repulsive.  And in short, quite a skill.  Her name was Rita (yes, named after the storm – she did have a sister named Katrina who died a few years ago), and like most cats, self sufficient and less than encourageable; such are these creatures.  And therefore and in my experience quite unlike the other preferred domesticated pet: your household dog.

All this said, I did grow up with a number of dogs.  We had a collie named Brandy, a black lab dubbed Splash, and golden retriever mix called Honey.  Too, up until our second child we had a rescue greyhound, Bijou, but her jealousy for our attention grew too great, so we found her a new home.  Her jealousy specifically manifested itself in insatiably destroying every pair of shoes our then babies had.  It’s bad enough children’s footwear is outgrown quickly, but to routinely steal away with the new dress shoes, sandals or what have you and mangle it beyond use, one day we had just had enough.  Bijou wasn’t going to stop, and we were done.  Uncle Tommy took her in, and that was that.

These days my children attend the International School of Louisiana in the Lower Garden across from Coliseum Square, where recently a canine symposium of sorts took place in a “dog bowl” to spell out pet owners and their pets use of public spaces.  And boy, it needed to, but frankly I’m unclear what if any impact it had.  I did not attend, but the gist of it was to go over laws and such — I think basically to provide a warm fuzzy for all those who use the park.  On any given day, it remains a rarity to see a leashed dog.  Really.  As recently as yesterday as we crossed the park to our car, a nicely dressed man neatly removed the fresh poo his ginormous black Great Dane had deposited leashlessly.  An ordinary spectacle for Coliseum Square, yet I’m always left wondering, why?

Sure, sure, your dog is the greatest and has never bitten anyone, been set off, caused a bicycle or automobile accident, and can complete the New Dork Times crossword in record time for the furrball set, so why should you leash them, right?  Well, for starters, it’s the law.  And secondly, despite your best effort or intentions, dogs — your dog, all dogs — will react or behave accordingly given the situation, and you my dear dog owner are doubtfully unable to prognosticate future events, so there’s that.  Which leaves me wondering further if dog owners these days carry any liability insurance or even realize they maybe should.  Dog bites still happen, don’t they? 

But I get it: people love their pets.  It’s obvious, it’s clear, and Americans spend more now on the care of their four legged friends than they ever have.  The business therein transformed into a juggernaut of an industry embodied in destination big-box pet depots like PetCo and PetSmart.  Eerily even rocker Bret Michaels got in on some sweet, sweet disposable pet dollar in with a clothing line.  One might conjure up other lines in Trent Reznor trendier pet duds or maybe get a little steampunk thing going in some doggy goggles, tiny top hats, or the like.  Whatever it is, there would appear to be no end that pet owners won’t go to to provide for their hairy people, so it therefore strikes me as odd as their safety wouldn’t be right up there.

Leash laws and fecal collection for better or for worse provide the foundation of dog ownership in the 21st century, so get with it.  Maybe you won’t get ticketed, and maybe no one will address you, but for the health and safety of everyone that uses public spaces — Coliseum Square or wherever — adhering to these standards should be priority.  The space is for everyone.  Not just you and your pooch.  And no one likes stepping in poo, not even you, so clean it up.  And if you find you simply can’t abide, then maybe you will get ticketed, or maybe somebody will say something, and maybe just maybe you should just get a cat.  Some behead rats, I hear, well, the better ones anyway, and that can’t be easy.

A dog waits for its owner to catch up leaving Coliseum Square on Wednesday morning. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for

A dog waits for its owner to catch up leaving Coliseum Square on Wednesday morning. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for

Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and Du Mois Gallery on Freret Street and a married father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at, he also shares his family’s adventures sometimes via pedicab or bicycle on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

33 thoughts on “Jean-Paul Villere: Dig dogs? Time to obey

  1. I couldn’t agree more with your article, Jean-Paul. Coliseum Park is within walking distance of my home, yet I avoid taking my dog anywhere near there due to the risk of being “greeted” by an unleashed dog whose owner would be sure to try to convince me how friendly their dog is.
    I do wish for a dog park closer to my home, but until that day, I’ll continue to drive up to City Bark a couple of times a week. I like the fact that there’s a screening process for admittance. Only dogs up to date with their shots, and proven non-aggressive are allowed. It’s totally worth the trip, and it’s totally worth the membership fee.
    My dog is such a happy dog since we started going there!

  2. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Since I happen to have a rare grass patch between my sidewalk and the curb, it has become a destination for inconsiderate dog owners who just. want. to. get it. over. with. and. go. home. In the 23 years that I have lived on this corner (another attractive nuisance!), inconsiderate dog owners have been responsible for ruined shoes, smelly cars and indoor rugs, etc., not to mention the spread of germs. I have come to realize that this is an act of hostility on the part of people who are actually, in most cases, our neighbors. I have caught them in the act, and no longer keep silent. Sometimes I think we need to do what they do in New York – display posters of the offending neighbors and their dogs “in the act!” Since the worthless Garden District Patrol should be able to do SOMETHING besides escort old ladies to their doors, maybe they could spend some time issuing warnings and tickets. I wouldn’t even care if the patrol got to keep the funds – just to keep the s**t from my front door.

    • You don’t own the grass patch between your sidewalk and the curb. That is city property, actually. They should pick it up anyway, but in actuality there isn’t anything you can enforce.

    • Whatever problems you posit of children v. canines (weird compare/contrast frankly), if the law were to leash said brats, I would. In the mean time, the law in place requires dogs be leashed, so – – –

      • When I walk my dog to the park, he is on a leash. When I get to the park, I take him off so he can run and play with other dogs. I always always pick up after my dog. Children and adults love my dog because he is so friendly and playful. There are usually kids playing with dogs at the park.

        If I and many others that I know who bring their dogs to Coliseum Park are forced to take our dogs elsewhere, then this park will lose a community that binds the fabric of this neighborhood together. Furthermore, the park will once again, as it was before Katrina, be taken over by derelicts. Dogs need to run. Especially those that don’t live with an owner who has a yard. I do not own a car and even if I did I would not drive all the way to city park. I would, however, support an official dog park in Coliseum Park. There is plenty of room. Too many intelligent people in this city are always quick to complain about things that are wrong with this city. but never offer a solution.

        • While I agree with you on many points with regards to dogs needing a place to run, I disagree with you wholeheartedly, yet respectfully, that “everyone loves your dog.” I understand completely your desire to find a patch of yard to let you dog run in, as I do not have a yard either. But, I will not let my dog off the leash to cater to that whimsy because it is against the law. My dog loves people. He LOVES children. He only likes SOME dogs, not all. He is always on leash because I recognize there are some dogs & some people who will take exception to HIM. If your dog comes upon me & my leashed dog, & an altercation happens, guess who is going to be in trouble? No, not you with your “entitled attitude” & loose dog, it will be me & my leashed pit bull who is ONLY reactionary when an illegally LOOSE dog decides to butt into our space…& yes, it happens ALL THE TIME. The parks are for everyone & the laws apply to everyone for their safety & to protect the enjoyment of everyone wanting to go out for a stroll. Please, please, please obey the rules so those of us who DO obey the rules don’t suffer for your irresponsible activity. A responsible dog owner has the option to avoid the parks altogether, but that isn’t fair either. I like to walk in the park, away from the neighborhoods just like you do. You also have the option to avoid the parks, too, but do you? No. So the law-abiding citizenry are restricted. As for solutions, I believe there are plans to establish an official dog park down by the Fly. If you don’t want to go to a dog park, you could do like the other responsible owners & keep your dog on a leash.

  3. Perhaps you should use your pulpit to call on the city to add a fenced-in
    area to Coliseum Park for dogs. It is the only solution. Do you
    actually live in the neighborhood? If you did then you would certainly
    convey the benefits that the daily gatherings in the park of dogs and their owners provide (i.e. a sense of community) to the neighborhood. Neighbors mingling with neighbors provides a level of community security that the NOPD simply cannot. Neighbors mingling with neighbors with dogs
    takes neighborhood security to a whole new level. Not to mention the
    proven mental and physical health benefits to individuals having dogs as
    pets. Dogs need to run freely, not choke behind a leash. Period. Sure,
    there are ordinances in place pertaining to dogs. There are also laws
    against chasing people down with baseball bats, beating and robbing them
    in public parks. Bottom-line, is that whether it is your intent or not,
    you are advocating that this Coliseum Park community be torn apart and dispersed because
    it somehow inconveniences you. You are advocating for a park overrun
    with drug addicts. Wait until the dog owners have gone and the park is
    overrun with crack heads, homeless, prostitutes, needles, broken glass,
    used condoms, etc. And when you step in a pile of human feces, I hope
    you’ll be very proud of what you helped to accomplish. Again, you could
    have used this column to advocate for a fenced-in area as a fair compromise. The fact that you did not demonstrates a level of selfishness and/or ignorance that, in my opinion, plagues neighborhoods throughout New Orleans, post- Katrina.

    • I fail to understand how a fenced in area is “the only solution.” And no one is saying rid the park of dogs. Simply leash them and clean up after them – where’s the complexity?

    • That is the most hilarious post I’ve read in quite some time. Talk about a hyperbole, red herring , slippery slope and straw man rolled into one. Jonathan…so you’re saying that when the dog owners use the park between (basically 4:30 and 6:30 pm) is when the crack heads and prostitutes are displaced? And only unleashing their dogs prevents this right? That’s your point… right? As far as creating a fenced dog run, I’m all for it. I love dogs but I’m not stupid enough to vouch for other peoples pets when put in large unsupervised groups. In fact, here’s a novel idea, why don’t the DOG OWNERS PAY FOR IT? Since the neighborhood groups take THEIR volunteer time to have park clean ups, restore and keep the fountain running, plant trees and fight crime-it must be just to give a bunch of ungrateful dog owners a nice place to take a dump and constantly keep families with small children out with their unpredictable “friends” and excuses ..right? Maybe those owners need to give a bit more back than their “protection”; nobody’s asking for it. Isn’t that how the mafia and gangs in general make their case? “you need to put up with all our crap because it makes you safe”. Thanks for the input now how about lifting a finger to do something.

    • Jonathan is right: Dog owners produce a social good at considerable expense to themselves and negligible cost to others. This cannot be realistically accomplished when dogs are denied the chance to run loose and play. Indeed, it’s this very activity that socializes dogs, making them even less likely to bite. It also socializes their humans, allowing valuable personal interaction among neighbors in the public square.

      Jean-Paul and others opposing off-leash dogs are overlooking the law of unintended consequences: a public space denied to desirable, responsible citizens is not left in splendid isolation but is quickly filled by the sort of people you don’t want hanging around. Here’s some secret information for the non-dog people, from one who frequents another uptown underground dog play space: the dogs are ALL friendly and well-socialized — because group dynamics, not to mention a healthy individual respect for the risks of personal liability, act quickly to identify, isolate, and exclude out-of-control dogs and irresponsible owners. The system polices itself just fine.

      • First of all ,you use the term “opposing off leash dogs” as if its a movement or a cause. Well it’s not. This is a city with all sorts of people and problems and the residents who care for the dogs take absolute precedence whether that suits you or not . AND , No it doesn’t police itself, which is why I personally spent all day Easter Sunday this year trying to keep people out of the park and away from 3 large very agressive Pit Bulls that one of your trusted owners dropped off off for 4 hours while he did other stuff. There was a police officer stuck in the park in his cruiser for hours bc animal control wasn’t available and they kept rushing people. FYI these aren’t ordinances , they are laws, Every major municipality in the country has THE SAME LAWS for unfenced public spaces.To your last and most ridiculous point: If your HUMANS aren’t socialized at this point , then a dog isn’t going to fix them which is why they provide pens for them as well. If you want your dogs to run free get a yard or take them to the countryside or to a PROVIDED dog run. I agree there should be more, I am a dog owner of 30 + years. I love dogs but your comments are as immature as any I have seen and no vet, or shelter or responsible dog owner agrees that letting dogs off leash in a park barely 100 yards across that’s directly beside a grade school is defendable. Sorry that -‘s the way it is.

  4. I couldn’t agree more with your article, Jean-Paul. Coliseum Park is within walking distance of my home, yet I avoid taking my dog anywhere near there due to the risk of being “greeted” by an unleashed dog whose owner would be sure to try to convince me how friendly their dog is.

    I do wish for a dog park closer to my home, but until that day, I’ll continue to drive up to City Bark a couple of times a week. I like the fact that there’s a screening process for admittance. Only dogs up to date with their shots, and proven non-aggressive are allowed. It’s totally worth the trip, and it’s totally worth the membership fee.

    My dog is such a happy dog since we started going there!

  5. I LOVE Coliseum Park and I run laps around there often. But the un-leashed dogs there occasionally give me a scare.

  6. is this all you can talk about? everytime I look at the uptown messanger you are complaining about dogs………trust me we have much bigger things to be concerned about……..not to mention, your anger towards dogs is frightening to me!!

    • I also noticed this, as I was reminded of a similar post about dogs many months ago and it’s from the same author. Face it…you don’t like dogs and probably weren’t very fond of the ones you owned. You got rid of your own dog because it ate your children’s shoes. Why not place your children’s shoes somewhere that the dog cannot reach? I have two dogs and I expect them to be dogs. Every dog owner should know what they are faced with when getting a dog. I expect that sometimes they’ll destroy something out of boredom, or even do things that I’ll never be able to explain. Therefore, because I enjoy my dogs company and I also enjoy my household belongings, I am careful to keep the things I care about away from my dogs. This isn’t that hard to do. Plus, baby gates work wonders. Maybe you are the irresponsible dog owner for not taking the time to create boundaries or understand your dogs.

      Regarding the park, which is near my own home – that park is, indeed, overrun with homeless folks and types I doubt you are interested in letting yourself or your children be around. Your reasoning of “it’s the law” is a solid one, yes, but I’m curious as to how many dog attacks or even bites have occurred there. Try lobbying for a fenced in dog park Uptown and this problem (which you are apparently obsessed with) will be solved. Some folks don’t have the luxury of a yard and certainly one could say “well they shouldn’t get a dog” but what about all the hundreds of dogs in this city that need homes? Maybe you could lobby more for spaying and neutering too while you’re advocating for the fenced dog park.

      I agree that owners should pick up after their dogs, and I do it myself, and often pick up other dog’s mess too.

      • Thanks Macaroons,
        I love my Goldens like children. I take them everywhere I can and I do clean up after them. My soul mate dog was a pet therapist and we went to the nursing homes to visit the elderly and sick. There were many times, I did in fact walk her off of the leash but she was always by me and never caused any problems.
        If dogs are problematic then it is their owner’s fault. The police can be called if a dog is aggressive and the owner fails to leash and control their dog.
        I used to frequent the levee and all the dogs ran free. There was occasionally and out of line dog that was aggressive. Usually the dog owners would gang up on the owner of that dog and ask them to leave. Only once do I recall calling the police because the owner was under the influence of something and worse than his pit bull.
        I completely agree that people should pick up after their dogs but people should also not litter. I can’t tell you how many times, I have confronted people when they throw garbage out of their car. It floors me that some people I even know think that a cigarette but is not litter. Bottom line people are irresponsible and if they want the people to pick up after their dog then make them. Intimidation can work wonders when everyone is enjoying the park, and someone says, “your dog just went to the bathroom, here you can have one of my bags.”
        I haven’t been in that section of town in years at night because I am near the university area. But from what I remember from around there, stepping in dog poop at night is much less a concern than being held up or confronted by a wino or weirdo.
        Jean-Paul really has a disturbing obsession with dogs. I am not kidding when I say his multiple articles about dogs frighten me. I don’t trust people that do not like animals. If you see him, I wouldn’t trust him near your dog. To make matters worse his attitude is probably going to adversely effect his children and they are going to fear and not like dogs. Such a shame.
        Personally if I was the Uptown Messenger, I would want more important issues addressed and not allow multiple regarding the same nonthreatening issue.

      • How many dog attacks and bites are ok for you? The question is leashes, not right to own. Just the control of your non human that doesn’t speak english and no matter how nice sometimes gets out of hand. Again this doesn’t mean every dog has a problem, but enough do and their owners are often oblivious. I’ve been in the park with my own dog plenty. I have been one of the unleashed owners MANY times. I’ve seen other owners who are so irresponsible its ridiculous. dogs super aggressive and the owner makes stupid excuses bc they can’t face the reality. If you really are a frequenter of these spots you know EXACTLY what I mean; I have chosen not to do it anymore. Its not fair to non pet owners who incidentally outnumber owners handily. Its not fair to children. Like it or not we off leash dog owners are an illegal minority controlling a public space. I still want a dog run near by my house. I would gladly fight and even contribute funds for it. Will you? We never will have a chance though with self righteous owners blasting people who want to use the park themselves. Homeless, yes also an issue, but its a different issue. FYI lots of dogs on leashes are also just as frightening to vagrants; just congregate near them if you want them out so bad.

  7. I think owners should clean up after themselves and feel that dogs walking need a leash…protects other dogs on leashes, too, but ironically most of the cat owners I know do not leash or control the cats. I love cats, too, but they run in my yard (nothing keeps ’em out) and poop in my yard. So, just need to continue to support and encourage all to consider others’ perspectives.

  8. I also live near this park and I don’t mind the dogs too much if they’re nice, small dogs who know how to behave and socialize. BUT… the pit bulls and large rowdy dogs need to be restrained in public places. The owners should know better and are inconsiderate of their neighbors.

    The bigger issue is dog owners who refuse to pick up after their pets! I have one of those small grass strips and I take care of it, cut it, edge it, pick up the daily trash- only to wake up in the morning to steaming piles of sh*t. It’s not just the young renters in the area, its also the wealthy homeowners who walk 2 or 3 blocks past empty lots, past other yards so their dog can mess right in front of my entrance. I don’t have a dog so why must my family, friends, house, car, shoes be covered in poo? Am I to be punished for nurturing green space?

    No more being polite. Let it be known that if I see ANYONE leaving a pile in my neighborhood, I WILL MAKE YOU EAT IT! I’m big, strong and I will make it happen. I hope you’re hungry!

  9. On a somewhat related note… I am curious as to what the consensus is for disposing of the bag of waste leftover after picking up after one’s dog. Is it acceptable to drop off the parcel at the nearest garbage can, even it if is not yours? I don’t have a dog, but I sure do have a lot of dog poop that finds its way to my garbage can.

    Personally, it drives me crazy because it stinks to high heaven– especially in the dog days of summer (no pun intended.) But I don’t know what the proper protocol is, so I just accept that it is what it is.

    I guess, based on reading the article and responses, I should just be happy that my neighbors actually do seem to all leash their dogs and pick up after them.

  10. Jean Paul, I agree with you on the problem of unleashed dogs in public but I take serious issue with you giving a free pass to the feline species.

    More concerning to me than the isolated problem of unleashed dogs in Coliseum Square is the widespread feral cat problem in Uptown (or ‘community cats’ as we’re now supposed to call them). The City continues to expand a ‘Catch-Neuter-Return’ program for feral cats; I think this is a far worse problem. If I want to avoid dog feces, I can just watch where I step or avoid curb grass strips. I can’t say the same for feral cat feces; I wake up every morning to cat feces in my yard, in my planters, on my deck. What cat owners should I blame for this? Where’s the law for leashing cats? In fact, cat feces carries a far higher risk to human public health considering it’s often laden with dangerous infectious parasites (

    So let’s recap… while you haggle about leash laws in isolated parks, our cities now treats cats as a protected native species and is perfectly OK with them dropping feces all over our homes and yards – feces that can be very harmful to children, elderly and pregnant women. Then there’s also the issue of the damage that feral cats impose on the actual native flora and fauna. There’s nothing humane about our city’s ‘Catch-Neuter-Release’ program. It ignores a very real public health risk and leaves feral cats to live out a miserable, agonizing existence on the street. If you want a real villain, look no further than this policy and the exponentially growing feral cat population her in Uptown.

  11. I agree with ALL points but why direct your message to just dog owners? I see more cats outside without leashes than dogs on a daily basis. Sounds absurd? Its still the law! Cats cause damage too. A neighbor’s cat ruined the paint on my car with its claws by constantly jumping on and off the hood of my car. I had to make my raised house cat-proof bc cats were doing their business under my house and the smell began to permeate throughout the house. I frequently find cats digging in my flowerbeds and have to repair their damage. I can’t open a window for fresh air and leave it unattended or they will find a way in. ALL UNLEASHED ANIMALS ARE A NUISANCE. PERIOD.

    • You are completely correct, there is NO LAW that says cats must be leashed. In fact feral cats are now inexplicably protected by this city. I personally believe the new sets of laws that now NO LONGER will pick up problem cats from properties will lead to wholesale animal abuse as people take the law (control) into their own hands. I whole heartedly agree that cats can be an incredible problem , the new city ordinance of not collecting strays caught or otherwise will lead to old school killing of problem cats.

  12. Wow i’m very impressed- I never seen anyone sell real estate before with actual feces-
    + this time he goes blue, and leaves his own neighborhood to pick the low hanging poop for clicks and comments- I was dumb enough not to look before stepped-
    Hey Robert Morris- one of your divas made a mess again…

  13. It’s really just a matter of courtesy. Please pick up after your dog! If you don’t, you’re just a jerk. Plain and simple.
    As for the leash issue, I understand the desire to have your pooch run free- but we live in a city with city problems. I am an animal lover, including dogs, and I would like to share 2 short stories with you: 1) One day, on my way home from work, I was stopped at an intersection and directly across from me on Napoleon, I witnessed a man acting strange, like he was about to get jumped. Then I quickly noticed a dog running in his direction, no leash, and the owner of that dog nearly a block behind acting like everything’s fine. As I am familiar with dogs, I knew instantly that the dog was not out to do any harm… just enjoying a beautiful playful day. A day which almost ended very badly for dog and owner as I watched the scared citizen reach into his pocket and pull out a knife. The dog literally stopped and turned back just in knick of time and narrowly avoided getting shanked. 2) I have a dear friend who recently lost his dog, and he is devastated. We have, in the past, actually had conversations about his habit of letting the dog off the leash to run and play. “it’s always in areas safe for the dog,” he’d say. “My dog is friendly and well behaved and it’s not a problem.” Then one day, following his normal routine, he let the dog off the leash. The dog saw a cat, and unlike the countless other times the dog has seen a cat, this time, the dog decided to make a go for it. Unfortunately, it was at this time, as the dog darted across the street, that the only car my friend had seen during the whole walk was exactly in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    The point is- I know you love your dog. That’s exactly why you need to keep him/her on a leash. Because nothing is worse than losing a friend in a preventable accident.

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