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Publishers WeeklyWith the "largest canine population known in history," New York City in the early 1970s was drowning in 500,000 pounds of feces every day. In this overlong, occasionally entertaining account, Brandow details the situation with painstaking rigor, as the messy problem turned into a boondoggle of bizarre schemes, red tape and, eventually, 1978's State Health Law 1310, which requires dog owners to clean up after their pets. Proposed solutions included forcing dogs to use their owners' bathrooms, and City Controller Abraham Beame's suggested corps of "Envirmaids," female inspectors who would police the city "night and day." (Why women? Not only are they neater than men, they cost less.) Brandow gives plenty of time to these and other characters, including TV reporter Fran Lee, whose "what about the children" campaign pushed the theory (later debunked) that dog feces exposure would cause blindness in kids, and the work of more level-headed, well-intentioned neighborhood groups. Unfortunately, constant digressions drag the narrative, exploding the text to encyclopedic length. Even dog-owning Manhattan natives will have their patience tested plodding through the bill's inevitable ratification and aftermath; though occasionally engaging, this narrative is best suited for public policy students.
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