A  band of outlaws was prowling the neighborhood streets at night, breaking into cars and making off with valuables. Pretty soon, they’d be stealing recycling bins and bird feeders, not to mention the birdseed. No one was safe, so we did what every neighborhood does and pleaded with the law-enforcement officials for help, and they gave us professional advice — lock our cars and our homes.

Was that all? How about concrete barriers, barbed wire, increased patrols, video cameras or armed guards? “No can do,” the cops said, so we did what every neighborhood does when criminal activity becomes a threat, and we formed a neighborhood watch group.

Now, whenever something suspicious occurs, like say, a person walking down the street, we alert one another, the cops and the Trump administration. Much of the time, however, it’s only local teenagers wandering around in search of excitement or whatever teenagers search for after hours while older folks are fast asleep with visions of sugar plums and their annual bonus dancing in their heads.

Just when it seemed everything was under control, another neighborhood crisis erupted — an outbreak of dog poop, which had the potential to rival a toxic spill. Could we, I wondered, use this as a defensive tactic against the roaming robbers? It would surely slow down foot traffic. But, as you know, dog poop doesn’t discriminate, and even law-abiding citizens can find themselves victims of it on their shoes.

To me, this is one of the grave moral issues of our time. I’ve often wondered how pillars of the community, the church and the PTA, not to mention the Democratic and Republican parties, can lecture us on how to live our lives and yet have no qualms about letting their dogs do their business on the sidewalk without picking it up.

Which brings me to a historic question, worthy of a Ken Burns documentary. Who picked up after Bo and Sunny, President Obama’s Portuguese water dogs, and Barney, George W. Bush’s Scottish terrier? Was there a Secret Service Pooper Scooper? (It’s a nasty job but somebody’s gotta do it.)

Over the years, this problem has reached epidemic proportions in such enlightened places as New York City … until the City Council realized there were more important issues than the budget deficit and education spending and drafted a Pooper Scooper Law in the late 1970s, which is enforced as vigorously as jay walking.  

If city agents see a dog walker failing to pick up after their dog, they issue a ticket — not to the dog, to the owner. (Maybe both of them should be penalized because the dog would learn from its mistake.) I’m convinced that instead of Neighborhood Watch signs, we need signs that say, “Pick up after your dog: IT’S THE LAW.”

From my perspective, there’s nothing more annoying than sitting at the breakfast table, trying to read the morning headlines about Donald Trump, or looking out the window, hoping to see a flock of goldfinches at the bird feeder, and instead seeing my neighbor curbing his very large German shepherd in front of the mailbox. Then, I have to apologize to the U.S. Postal Service when the mailperson drives over it and refuses to deliver my mail.

We take care of our dog’s business. It’s not my favorite chore in the world, but it’s a health necessity. Our killer Maltese is also trained to bark whenever someone tries to let their dog poop in front of our house. Over the years, she’s done an admirable job, although when we walk her, she tends to make a beeline for some other dog’s business. Why do dogs get their kicks out of that sort of thing? I guess it’s a question for Bill Nye, the science guy.

So here’s my suggestion. We need to make our streets safe again for pedestrians. We need to end this health scourge. We need to extend the mandate of the Neighborhood Watch. We need to be on the lookout for dog owners who don’t pick up after their dogs, take photos, put them on social media and let the world know who they are.  

Either that, or we have to have call the Dog Whisperer and have him give the dogs a pep talk and try to reason with them so they realize they shouldn’t be pooping on the streets. They should be doing that sort of thing in the privacy of their homes … on very expensive carpets.

Joe Pisani may be contacted at [email protected]