The citizens of Viroqua, Wisconsin, find manure on their city streets, dropped by horses pulling Amish buggies, to be offensive—and the city council is listening to their complaints. David Treptow, a resident of the city quoted in a news article last week, told the council that he is tired of shoveling horse manure off the road in front of his home.
“One time it was right in front of the driveway,” he said. He cleaned up the manure, but he was unable to identify the guilty horse. All he could tell was that it was pulling a black buggy. But he was able to solve the problem in his own way. He waited until another Amish buggy came past and delivered the horse droppings to them. “And if it happens again, I will deliver it to the first black buggy I see since there is no identification.”
Larry Fanta, the mayor of Viroqua, a town in southwest Wisconsin near the tri-state boundary with Minnesota and Iowa, said that he had approached Amish elders last year about the issue and nothing seems to have been done. Horses continue to drop their excrement as they move along the streets, he said. One of the city aldermen, Marc Polsean, suggested that a permit be required for every horse entering the city limits.
Mr. Polsean indicated that horse owners in other states had successfully used diapers for their animals, which alleviated the problem. Another alderman, Charles Steinhoff, agreed. He urged the community to put up a sign requiring horses to be diapered, or at least that horse owners clean up after their animals.
Mr. Treptow said that the council should consider the Amish horses to be littering, and that they be subject to the local anti-littering laws. He argued that owners of other animals were required to clean up after their pets, so horse owners should do the same. “If they [the Amish] don’t want to address it, then we need to take care of it,” he said.
The council decided to draft a letter to the Amish elders requiring them to clean up after their horses. If they don’t, the city will take enforcement action. Alderman Dave Tryggestad said that this should be considered a last warning. “I think it’s about time the city did something about it.”
However, another alderman at the council meeting, Gary Krause, said that the only way to resolve the problem would be to work with the Amish and solicit their cooperation. Apparently more of a peacemaker than the others, Mr. Krause suggested that the council should seek a meeting with the local Amish people to explore the issue, so there would not be any misunderstandings.
Alderman Cyndy Hubbard evidently concurred, suggesting that such a meeting should be held on a Saturday afternoon, when the farmer’s market was closing down and many Amish would be in town anyway. Mayor Fanta concluded that the matter had been discussed many times before and “we’ve got to put an end to it.” He added, “we’ll send the letter out as a courtesy and then go from there.”