07/22/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Holy Crap!

It's hard to find encouraging business news these days, so it was with some enthusiasm that the New York Times reported recently on a little-known segment of our brave new economy that is going strong: poop scoopers or, as they prefer to be called, animal waste specialists. For many, poop removal service has joined indoor plumbing and cable on the list of former luxuries that can no longer be done without.

Naturally, the scoopers have their own professional organization. The Association of Animal Waste Specialists (APAWS), the driving force behind International Pooper Scooper Week, devoted to "educating pet owners on the importance of cleaning up after their dogs" (In case you missed it, this year's was April 1-7), numbers about 150 members. On the Association's website, you can consult a state-by-state directory of member companies whose names demonstrate beyond any doubt that animal waste specialists like puns, wordplay and, in general, the sort of humor that makes this vein on the left side of my forehead throb visibly. Here is contact info for Yucko's Pooper Scooper Service (#1 in St. Louis for Turd-Herding!), Doggie Doo Not, When Doody Calls, In the Line of Dooty (note spelling variants), Entre-Manure, Dirty Work, Poop Masters, We Do Doo Doo and more.

The APAWS members closest to my Brooklyn home are in suburban communities in New Jersey and Long Island. It's not surprising that scooping services cater largely to a suburban clientele, slothful dog owners who let their dogs go in their yards, from whence the good luck is picked up once or twice a week. What the yard is like in between visits is something I prefer not to dwell upon, but the arrangement would certainly put a damper on one's use and enjoyment of the yard. In a word, ick. This custom of letting your dog crap on your property and then leave it there to cure is another excellent reason, along with the better known anomie and alienation and crazy teenage drivers, why you will never catch me living in a suburb.

By contrast, my dog George cohabits with an entire family of waste removal specialists and we take our work seriously. I, for one, remember the dark days before the poop scoop law of 1978 transformed New York from a land where ripple-soled shoes dare not tread to a wonderland of (more or less) poo-free streets. The pooper scooper law is one of the few laws in New York history that enjoys active support from the citizenry. Call it a matter of values: In these parts, picking up after your dog is the inalienable obligation of the owner and that is why even the most bleeding heart, soft-on-crime New York liberal is likely to support the death penalty for poop-leaving scoff-laws, preferably by some slow and agonizing method.

I've had nothing against the removal specialists themselves. Until now.

Now I know that "The good people of Poop Butler believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior." I know that the mission of Pet Butler includes the intention to "honor God in all we doo." ("Doo." Get it?) An outfit call the Charlotte Poop Van Scoop wants me to know that Jesus loves me. In a related development, an outfit called Discount Pet Medicines offers this prayer right below the copyright information on their Website: "Thank you Jesus for blessing us with the presence of our pets."

I am not saying that the animal waste removal industry is an evangelical plot, but I am saying that knowing the religious convictions of the person you hire to pick up the dog shit in your yard - or from who you buy your dog meds - falls squarely into the category of Too Much Information. I understand that cleanliness may be next to godliness, but there is a time and place for everything, and poo retrieval time is not proselytizing time, imho.

Besides, dog-owning evangelicals have problems beyond the good luck in their yards. Apparently, pets aren't allowed in heaven, so come the Rapture, Fido won't be making the trip. Speaking personally, this would be a deal breaker - even if I were a believer. But at least one individual has seen an opportunity in Judgement Day. For fifty dollars, offers an avowed atheist posting on Kansas City's Craigslist, your critter will be fed, sheltered, exercised and generally well cared for from the moment you disappear into the empyrean until the end of its natural life.

The person doesn't say anything about picking up poo, though, and I believe that even in End Times, neatness counts. Which is why I wash my hands of this matter.