“I think it’s disgusting and could spread disease.”

dog walker

“Dear PoPville,

I just saw [6pm Tuesday] this dog walker helping his dog drink from a human water fountain in Logan Circle. I think it’s disgusting and could spread disease. I’m curious what other readers think.”

120 Comment

  • I think most dog diseases aren’t zoonotic. I think the ones that are would have plenty of other vectors to infect humans. I also think the fountains are made out of stainless steel because germs don’t live on it very long. So think think the risk is really, really low.
    Root causes: I think NPS has the lower doggy fountains (picture) to avoid this situation. I also think NPS never maintains them, so they usually don’t work.

    • +1. Given that the chance of transmission is very low, I still would not let my dog drink from a human fountain. And I think most dog walkers would err on the side of caution. So my concern would not be this particular instance but rather whether the dog walker is engaging in other discourteous or potentially unsafe activities, like not finding an adequate (i.e. pet-safe) water source, failing picking up poop, letting dogs walk in private yards, etc. Where there’s smoke…

  • I think the “human” water fountains in Logan Circle are disgusting and could spread disease.

  • If you think you’re not already getting weird germs from other humans, let alone dogs, I have some bad news for you….

  • That isn’t just a “human water fountain” it’s a “children’s water fountain.” That man is a menace to children and their drinking water.

  • How is he able to be a dog walker and NOT have a collapsible rubber bowl? Those things are dirt cheap and fit in your pocket! I think this is gross, too.

    • You must be a guy– they certainly don’t fit in any pockets I have.
      I own one of those bowls but don’t carry it around for typical walks; I’m pretty sure my pups can go 15 minutes without water. But maybe this guy’s dog was panting a lot and he got concerned?

  • Clearly, this man should burn in hell for all eternity. I can think of no greater offense to humanity than what you’ve documented here.

  • This bothers me less than the people who let their children put their mouths completely overtop the water fountains.

  • Then don’t drink from there.

  • Yesterday, I saw a frenchie take a sh*t on the S St dog park doggy fountain, so this doesn’t really bother me.

  • I’d be willing the wager that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a child’s mouth. I’d also be willing to wager that OP is easily offended by other people’s actions.

  • I think the dogs drinking from that fountain are the least of your worries.

  • dogs have very clean mouths i’ve heard

  • I think I wouldn’t touch that fountain with a 10 foot pole, regardless of this guy.

  • I’m sure at night the rats and pigeons are pretty much having a pool party in them – not to mention that I see people rinse off their hands in these fountains on occasion (think Moms and Dads who have just changed diapers). I really don’t see the dogs as an issue and yes, I still drink out of outdoor public water fountains …but I like to live on the edge.

    • +1. I’m not sure how a dog tongue lapping water and not likely touching anything but the water return (which surely doesn’t get recycled back for consumption…?) is any more harmful than the bird and other critter excrement that has probably landed on the actual fountain part.

  • There’s a working water fountain in this city?

  • I think it’s disgusting when dog owners let their dogs lick their face, but I’ve never heard of anyone getting a disease from it. I also think it’s gross to let dogs drink out of water fountains obviously intended for humans, but I doubt it’s spreading disease. Besides, for all you know, the neighborhood hobos wash their undercarriage in that fountain when you’re sleeping, which would be way worse.
    But more to the point, this is poor form by the dog walker. He should have a better way to provide water to those dogs than having them stand up and lap from a water fountain.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    Early Afternoon Outrage (EAO)
    So silly. Tina Fey says dogs are cleaner than people.

  • Why aren’t the dog’s faces blurred? Oh, the caninity. OK in all seriousness I see why this is icky but most public water fountains also stand a good chance of getting covered in bird doo, so never let thine lips touch. Agreed that he should be carrying a foldable bowl, though. As parents should probably carry water bottles to avoid spreading kid germs to adults who have to use the accessible fountain.

  • He is not a dog walker, those are his dogs and they’re all rescues, by the way. He’s well-known in the neighborhood and a really nice man who takes great care of those well-trained dogs, and regularly gives treats to all other dogs in the neighborhood. It’s so hot, dogs are living things that need water, too, and I’m pretty sure those water fountains are only sanitary for dog use anyways. Give him a break.

    • +1
      thanks for the clarification. let’s all keep jumping to conclusions about his bad habits

    • +1 I am a neighbor too, and this man is a great neighbor.

    • I agree. He is a very nice man with lovely dogs. He is friendly and neighborly and the community is richer for having him in it.

    • SilverSpringGal

      +1 Let the dogs have their water. I wouldn’t want a child drinking from there anyways. Get them a sealed bottle or cup.

    • I think that regardless of whether he’s the owner or the dog walker this is an ok thing to do. It was HOT today he’s caring for the dog’s needs. Maybe he does have a collapsible bowl and forgot it. I know no one that reads POPville has ever forgtotten anything but I hear the poor saps who don’t read forget things ALL. THE. TIME. Image if someone had seen this man with these dogs and they looked hot and thirsty?! Someone would’ve called animal control for sure… sheesh people.

    • +1 Late to the party, but I’m impressed with how patiently all three dogs are waiting for their friend to have a drink. Clearly a great owner. Also I love their collars

  • I agree that it could spread disease to that poor dog.

  • To those who think this is ok, do/would you let your dog drink from your kitchen faucet or from your own drinking glass? Would you drink from this water fountain directly after seeing a dog drink from it? I didn’t think so.

    Dogs drink toilet water, lick their own asses, stick their snouts in other dogs’ asses, and eat feces. I’m no germaphobe, but this is gross.

    • “To those who think this is ok, do/would you let your dog drink from your kitchen faucet or from your own drinking glass?” Even for people who DO think that’s OK… it’s one thing to make that decision for yourself and your own private water supply. It’s another thing to make that decision on behalf of other people who use this water fountain.

    • Yes, I would and I have. I’ve actually let my dog take a lick of my ice cream cone or popsicle and then finished it. I’ve also never gotten sick from that, nor have I gotten sick from all of the puppy kisses I’ve received over my life. I think transmitting bacteria from pets to humans is a lot less dangerous and common than many on here think, and is primarily through fecal pathways anyways. I also thought I recently heard a news story about how dog (or maybe pets in general?) licks may have some healing properties?
      That being said, if I were desperate to hydrate my pup, I’d cup my hands.
      Also this all reminds me of Parks & Rec.

    • That’s not even the right question. The right question is “would you let any ol’ dog off the street drink from drinking glass, then finish it.” Ew!

  • Not a good idea. Just because other people might be misusing this water fountain doesn’t make it OK for this dog walker to be doing so. And just because there are other ways of getting germs doesn’t make it OK either.

  • yes this is kind of icky. but no more icky then the water fountains that are clogged with fresh loogies and chewed up gum. public water fountains are gross plain and simple. necessary, because sometimes you just need water, but gross.

    • Why add to the ickiness, though? You can’t help what other people do to a water fountain before you get there. But you can at least not make it any ickier than it already is.

      • oh no I don’t support that dude. Letting your dog drink out of the accessibility water fountain is gross. But had this dog walker remembered his dog bowl this morning that water fountain would still be gross.

  • Gross. I’ve written off all water fountains in general and this only validates my decision. Disease issue aside, sharing something intended for humans with animals rubs me the wrong way.

    • Agreed. All public fountains (even those inside buildings) are a little scary – more concerned about the human mouths on these than the animal mouths, but agree it’s the point that this idiot didn’t have the sense to cup his hand for the dogs, or just find a reasonable place to give them some water. It’s kinda like the parents I’ve seen changing their children’s diapers on tables where people eat (saw this once in a Starbucks – the person had a mat down but still, just poor behavior).

  • I used to let my dog (RIP) do this. He would lap at the stream but not touch the spout. I think that’s the only way a dog’s anatomy would allow them to drink, so let’s give this guy a break.

    • Yeah it’s not like the dog’s mouths would be touching anything but the streaming water right? Not really sure how this would spread germs. No problem with this. People need to chill. This culture of taking a picture of someone doing something questionable and posting it online for the world to judge is just too much.

      • +1000 to “This culture of taking a picture of someone doing something questionable and posting it online for the world to judge is just too much.”
        This is what gets me. It’s just… mean-spirited and attention seeking. Plus, part of me always wonders if the people who pay attention to small things like this pay attention to bigger things they could *actually* do something about, like calling an ambulance if they see a homeless person not doing well on the sidewalk, or reporting crosswalk outages to 311? Part of me doubts it.

      • “This culture of taking a picture of someone doing something questionable and posting it online for the world to judge is just too much.”
        Yup. But the people love it and PoP has a mortgage to pay, so here we are. It’s not classy but it’s all about clicks on the internet.

    • Emmaleigh504

      Yeah, I don’t see the harm in letting a dog lap at the water.

  • Even funnier than the person whining because there was no soccer classes for their 3 year old. DCers love to whine.

  • I think it’s only a problem if the dogs are wrapping their entire mouths around the spigot, like Andy from Parks and Recreation. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should google it because it’s hilarious.)

  • Another of many reasons to never use a public water fountain in DC again.

  • Who the hell actually drinks from public fountains let alone let’s their children drink from them? If you are worried about dog’s spreading disease and not other humans you need a biology lesson.

  • Hey, I think I recognize that bidet in the picture!!

  • Sigh.
    If you think it’s gross, just say it’s gross. I’d agree with you.
    But to raise the spectre of disease where really, the possibility of dog-to-human transmission of anything through saliva is vanishingly small, is just silly. Why do you want to exacerbate the science illiteracy of our society?

  • Just wanted to echo that I have seen (presumably homeless) people bathe in park water fountains before so dog germs would be the least of my worries if I was in an emergency and needed water.

    • +1 I’ve seen so many people (homeless and non) spit in these fountains. I have seen people use it as a bathroom sink. I’ve seen people put their mouths on the spigot. I don’t even want to imagine what happens to it at night.

      Considering you can get Hepatitis A from a smoothie, Listeria from fruit, E. Coli from veggies…just feel like there are actual, real dangers out there to worry about.

  • Birds use these as a toilet all day long, I think the dogs should be the least of your concerns.

  • Yes, of course you get can all kinds of nasty bacteria from dog saliva (fact) and its just gross (opinion). Anyone who doesn’t know that is naive, misinformed, or ignorant. People who let their dogs drink out of fountains go into the irresponsible dog owner category and give a bad name to responsible dog owners. Just because someone doesn’t see the harm in letting their dog drink from a public water fountain doesn’t give them them right to make that decision for everyone else. And I’m not trying to create controversy but anyone who lives in the city and owns four dogs should have their head examined.

    • What’s wrong with owning 4 dogs?

      • +1. Seriously what’s wrong with 4 dogs? Especially if they are all rescues like another comment mentioned. What a silly thing to judge people for.

    • You have too much time to get outraged by nonsense.

      And I have too much time for engaging.

    • Citation needed. Not theory based on lab swaps, actual cases of humans getting ill from ingesting dog saliva.

      • I see your point re. evidence… but people often get sick without realizing the cause of their getting sick, and usually epidemiological tracebacks are performed only in cases of things like really serious food poisoning.
        On a tangent… how are things with NBK? Have you tried clipping his claws since the recent RRRR discussion?

        • I’ve clipped a few. They grow so fast…
          But I did stop putting dry food in his bowl, and start putting it in empty water bottles with small holes cut in them. He spends hours batting them around to make the food fall out. And he’s seemed much more chill since then. Guess he just needed a job…
          Point about the dog spit is that any quantity ingested by a person who drank from the same fountain would be minuscule, and the bacterial load would hardly be noticed by even a marginally-functioning immune system. Just the presence of bacteria in a dog’s mouth doesn’t mean that contact with its spit is going to make you sick. It might be theoretically possible, but the chance is minute compared to the chance we run every day of catching something nasty from someone on the bus or someone working in a restaurant kitchen.
          I’m so impatient with this fear-mongering, and I wish people would quit it. It’s ok to be disgusted by something without trumping it up into a public health menace.

  • Find me one documented case of someone getting ill from dog saliva (not a bite) or stfu.

  • City of Chicago lets their horses (mounted police) regularly drink from fountains along the lake shore.

  • In general I find water fountains disgusting and don’t use them. I’m all for the pups enjoying some refreshment on a hot day.

  • Epidemiologist here, also personal experience with many bites. Dogs’ mouths are actually less ‘dirty’ than humans – bit by dog basically all you worry about are if it has rabies and if you get other stuff; human bites are really nasty. (buy me enough drinks I’ll tell the stories about the rabid sorority girl and also the one about a cranky doberman)

  • Inevitably, when you place a water fountain in the public domain, SOMEONE is going to be this guy. It just so happened you caught this person being THAT person.. whether you shame him or scold him or whatever, someone will be doing this when you’re not there to wag your finger. Survive accordingly

  • This is why you run the water for a second before drinking from a water fountain. All the germs and cooties leave in the initial blast of water. I mean, that said, I wouldn’t lick the fountain if I were you.

  • Uh… you know people pee and do other “stuff” in the water fountains around the city, right? I mean, a little dog spit might actually clean it up for you.

  • I Dont Get It

    I miss my two dogs and wish I had them back for even just an hour of disgusting face licking.

    • Awwww. I miss all my past pups too, and like to think I keep them alive by constantly calling the latest one various iterations of their names.

  • What’s up with the bizarre reaction against the common-sense note from the OP? Is this an organized response of the Dogs Over Humans club? (Is it really true that at your club meetings, everyone drinks water from dog bowls half-filled with dog drool?) Too many absurd arguments in this thread to count.

    • It’s hardly common sense. It’s hysterical and anti-science. But now that all our media is “These 18 household products could kill you!” and “He drank from a water fountain… You won’t believe what happened next!” that I guess people no longer know what “common sense” means.

  • Geez. This is what the neighborhood 7-11 and $.99 (for clean water) and cupped hands are for! Why do you think Al Gore went through all that trouble of inventing the cupped hands!

  • Not sure if it can spread too much disease, but it’s kind of gross… I mean, we ALL aren’t dog people..

  • I thought it was useful to remind people of this one, including all you kissy-poo dog owners out there:


  • Best solution would be to have a two tiered water fountain then with a pedal that operates the lower one for dogs. I personally wouldn’t drink from a public water fountain unless I absolutely had to, and neither would the majority of people I know. Dog germs primarily affect other dogs, and people germs primarily affect people. Some dog germs are potentially harmful to people, but it’s more likely that other people’s germs are going to get to you first. And also, some germs are harmful and some germs are not, and of course, each of our immune systems are learning machines that require exposure to germs to recognize the difference between healthy germs and unhealthy germs, and human tissue. It’s believed that allergies are on the rise in part because of an “antiseptic society.” Still, I only like my dog’s slobber, and wouldn’t expect anyone else to share their dog’s slobber or their own slobber on a device that will be shared. Hence, the only way to really avoid the whole problem is to not use a public fountain and to dog-friendly adjustments.

  • Your worried about a dog drinking from a public water fountain when there is fecal matter and lord knows what else on door handles to grocery stores and the like….. clearly you don’t own a pet

  • I think you should take a gigantic chill pill. I’d rather drink after these dogs than the homeless persons I see bathing in this same fountain!

  • Just remember with any outdoor water fountain that birds will play and drink from and shit in it, and so will squirrels, rats, and mice. Adding a dog to the myriad of creatures that will utilize it harms nothing. An indoor fountain at a school or something? Yeah, gross. But outdoors, that’s roughly as clean as the Potomac as it is.

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